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Who is ‘Otoniel’, the “most feared narco in the world” that Colombia compares with Pablo Escobar, and how was the massive operation to capture him?

This Saturday, the Colombian authorities confirmed the capture of the most wanted man in the country, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, known in the criminal world under the alias of ‘Otoniel’.

Úsuga, 49, was the head of the Gulf Clan, considered the largest drug trafficking group in Colombia and his crimes led him to establish himself as one of the most wanted drug lords internationally. For information leading to his capture, the DEA offered up to five million dollars.

After the arrest, the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, offered a press conference in which he declared that this is “the hardest blow to drug trafficking of this century in Colombia” and assured that it is “comparable only with the fall of Pablo Escobar”.

criminal life

‘Otoniel’ was born in the municipality of Necoclí, in Antioquia, and from there he began to strengthen his criminal emporium. Initially he was a member of the People’s Liberation Army (EPL), where he became a crime with only 16 years of age. Later he separated himself from this subversive group, to later join the ranks of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary group that operated until 2006.

In that block he was under the orders of Daniel Rendón Herrera, alias ‘Don Mario’, with whom he would start in the business of extortion and money laundering. On September 3, 2005, Úsuga demobilized again, when the AUC disintegrated.

After the capture of ‘Don Mario’, ‘Otoniel’ and his brother Juan de Dios Úsuga David, alias ‘Giovanny’, took control of Los Urabeños, whose name is due to the control they exercised in the Antioquia area of ​​Urabá. Since then one could speak of the so-called ‘Clan Úsuga’, which would later be known as the Clan del Golfo.

After the death of his brother, at the hands of the Colombian Police in 2012, ‘Otoniel’ held the position of head of the new criminal group. Against him exist more than 120 open processes for a whole series of crimes and a red circular issued by Interpol for aggravated multiple homicide, various types of kidnapping and conspiracy to commit a crime, pick up Time.

Colombian authorities offered up to 3,000 million pesos (approximately $ 794,000) for information to help track down his whereabouts.

President Duque classified Úsuga as “the most feared drug dealer in the world; murderer of policemen, soldiers, social leaders, in addition, recruiter of minors. He also indicated that he was known for “repeatedly abusing children and adolescents.”

Duque also stressed that there are extradition orders and he assured that they will work with the authorities “to achieve this task”, without this preventing justice from also being done for the rest of their crimes in the country.

Operation ‘Osiris’

For months the state of health of the criminal boss had been deteriorating, due to a series of complications. According to intelligence reports, Úsuga did not use technological services as cell phones, but communicated through a network of human emails, presumably due to police pressure.

General Luis Fernando Navarro, commander general of the Colombian Military Forces, detailed this Saturday that they had approximately seven years on the trail of ‘Otoniel’However, in January 2021 “it was decided to change the rhythms” and a new strategy was designed to better understand its structures and support network.

“We were unveiling the safety rings, understanding the mobility corridors in a better way and we were strategically positioning ourselves on the ground, explained the high command.

The general also stressed that everything was ready to break the last security barrier of ‘Otoniel’, so they gathered all the resources and the operation ‘Osiris’ was launched in the early hours of this Saturday.

They revealed that the operation was deployed with more than 500 special forces men Army and Navy, in addition to 22 support helicopters, which was able to close off any escape. His capture was finally achieved around 3:00 p.m. (local time). During the execution of the operation ‘, they also had satellite support from intelligence agencies of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Navarro pointed out that ‘Otoniel’ never had the opportunity to meet his support networks, or to leave the area because “all the commandos were strategically located.”

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