The number one of the criminal gang of the Gulf Clan , Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, alias ‘Otoniel’, the most wanted drug trafficker in Colombia , has been captured this Saturday in a joint operation of the Army, the National Police and the Air Force in the northwest of the country, local media report.
The capture took place in the rural area of El Totumo, which is part of the municipality of Necoclí, in the Gulf of Urabá , in northwestern Colombia, where the Clan del Golfo emerged, which later spread to other regions of the country.
Images released by different media show the captured man smiling, dressed in pants and a black T-shirt and with his hands tied behind his back, when he is led by soldiers armed with rifles after getting off a military helicopter.
The US Drug Control Administration (DEA) offered a reward for the drug lord of up to five million dollars (about four million euros) and the Colombian government of up to 3,000 million pesos, according to the Colombian media El Espectador . ‘Otoniel’ is the leader of the armed group with the largest presence in the country, the Clan del Golfo.
A life marked by illegality
Otoniel began illegally in the ranks of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), a Maoist guerrilla founded in 1967 and of which there is still a small stronghold, according to the specialized crime and drug trafficking database Insight Crime.
He dissociated himself from the EPL in 1991 after the signing of a peace agreement by that group with the Colombian Government, but his transition to life in society was short-lived, as he joined the paramilitary ranks shortly after, first in the Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Córdoba and Urabá. (ACCU), which finally were grouped in the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), where he worked under the orders of one of his best known bosses, Daniel Rendón Herrera, alias ‘Don Mario’, in charge of laundering assets and paying extortion money.
The demobilization of the AUC in 2006 was not to their liking, so when they captured Don Mario in 2009, he and his brother, Juan de Dios Úsuga, alias ‘Giovanni’, formed ‘Los Urabeños’ , another of the names with which that the AGC or the Clan del Golfo became known.
With their influence, their experience in money laundering and financing, and the drug trafficking networks that were orphaned by the AUC, they managed to expand their empire from the northwest of the country to many other regions where drug trafficking corridors or crops with crops continue to be disputed today. other armed groups such as the FARC dissidents or the National Liberation Army (ELN).
Crimes, extortion and illegal businesses
The Gulf Clan is attributed numerous crimes by social leaders and young people as part of its terror strategy in the areas where the gang operates, and is responsible for setting up a criminal network dedicated to collecting extortions from businessmen and merchants in the Urabá region, bordering Panama, and mainly on the Atlantic coast.
It is also the culprit to a great extent of the massive displacements and confinements imposed on communities -especially indigenous and Afro-descendant- in Chocó and other areas of the Pacific.
In these areas, this group has imposed its law, intimidated this population, disadvantaged and neglected by the State, with the collection of extortion and has also profited from illegal mining and other illicit businesses , using a geostrategic location of luxury, with access to two oceans and the gateway to Central America.
For these reasons, Otoniel has more than a hundred open processes in the Colombian justice system and Interpol was looking for him with a red letter. In addition, he has been on the ‘Clinton List’ in the US since 2013 along with the most dangerous drug traffickers and money launderers in the world.
To end their empire, the Army and the Police launched Operation Agamemnon in 2015, with thousands of troops, which for more than six years combed the Urabá and harassed their closest allies, actions during which they managed to seize more than 400 tons of cocaine .
In recent months, the head of the Clan del Golfo was located in a rural area of the Antioquia department surrounded by members of security and doctors who controlled his blood pressure and diabetes problems, according to the police.
In recent months, the Government has announced the casualties of some of its closest allies : his cousin Harlinson Úsuga Úsuga, alias ‘Orejas’, was extradited to the United States in March, while that same month his sister, Nini, was also arrested. Jhoana Úsuga, alias ‘La Negra’, the band’s chief financial officer.
A month before, Nelson Darío Hurtado Simanca, alias ‘Marihuano’, was “neutralized”, who considered himself the number 2 of the band and was Úsuga’s right-hand man.