Colombia government says it plans to extradite the man it calls the world’s most dangerous drug trafficker to the United States where he is on a wanted list based on several charges.
Dairo Antonio Usuga, commonly known as Otoniel, was captured by Colombia’s armed forces while in an operation in a rural area of Colombia’s Uraba region on Saturday.
A report by Aljazeera has it that the raid involved more than 500 members of Colombia’s special forces and 22 helicopters.
Justice Minister Wilson Ruiz told newsmen on Sunday that the government of Colombia will today file a petition with the Andean country’s Supreme Court to extradite Otoniel to the United States. Wilson Ruiz added that the process could take four weeks to complete
“Extradition awaits all those who commit international crimes,” Defence Minister Diego Molano told journalists in Necocli, close to where the 50 years old Otoniel was caught.
According to AFP the drug lord who had been on the wanted list of the US Drug Enforcement Agency for years is accused of exporting hundreds of tonnes of cocaine each year.
The US authorities had offered $5m for information leading to his capture.
Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti, reporting from Botoga, said the US had first indicted Otoniel back in 2009 and additional charges were filed in New York and Miami in 2015.
“He is wanted on several charges that he will eventually have to answer to”, Rampietti said.
The report gathered, also showed that the Colombian government offered a reward for Otoniel – up to 3 billion pesos (about $800,000) for information concerning his whereabouts.
Both rewards will be paid, Molano said, while describing Otoniel as “the worst kind” of criminal.
Born to a poor family, Otoniel joined the EPL, a Marxist guerrilla group that demobilized in 1991.
Otoniel according to the report is a paramilitary fighter, who ultimately headed the Gulf Clan, with a force of some 1,600 men and a presence in almost 300 municipalities nationwide.
Otoniel was the leader of the drug-trafficking group Clan del Golfo, or Gulf Clan, which operates in 12 of Colombia’s 32 provinces, and counts some 3,800 members, according to information provided by Colombia’s national police.
Clan del Golfo is also involved with illegal mining, and the government accuses the group of threatening and killing community leaders across the country.
Colombia’s police chief, General Jorge Vargas, said much of the information leading to Otoniel’s capture came from Clan del Golfo members.
“A lot of Clan del Golfo’s people betrayed him,” Vargas said.
Otoniel trafficked as much as 200 tonnes of cocaine a year with the Clan del Golfo, and is responsible for the deaths of more than 200 members of Colombia’s security forces, the defence ministry said in a statement.
Colombian authorities launched Operation Agamemnon in 2016 as they worked to close in on Otoniel, killing and capturing dozens of his lieutenants, going after his finances and forcing him to be constantly on the move, according to police.