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Colombia's Most Wanted Drug Lord Captured.

Officials stated Saturday that Colombia's most sought drug trafficker, "Otoniel," had been apprehended, marking a big success for the country's administration.

Dairo Antonio Usuga, the leader of the Gulf Clan, the country's largest narco-trafficking group, was apprehended near one of his key bases in Necocli, near the Panamanian border.

The government released photos of Otoniel, 50, who was handcuffed and surrounded by soldiers.

"This is our country's hardest hit against drug trafficking this century," President Ivan Duque said in a statement, adding that the arrest was "only equal to the fall of Pablo Escobar," the infamous Colombian drug lord.

The operation, which resulted in the death of one police officer, was carried out by 500 soldiers backed by 22 helicopters in the Necocli municipality.

According to Duque, it was "the largest jungle penetration ever witnessed in our country's military history."

During a press conference, Colombian police director Jorge Vargas stated that officials conducted "an important satellite operation with agencies from the United States and the United Kingdom."

Otoniel was hiding in the woods in the Uraba region, according to police, and did not use a phone, instead depending on couriers to communicate.

He "slept there in the rain, never approaching inhabited areas," Vargas stated, fearful of police.

The US had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Otoniel, who is considered one of Colombia's most dreaded individuals.

He was indicted in the United States in 2009 and is currently awaiting extradition to the country, where he would appear in federal court in the Southern District of New York.

The Colombian government accuses the group of being one of the main drivers of the worst spell of nationwide violence since the signing of a peace accord with FARC guerillas in 2016. The gang is financed mostly by drug trafficking, illicit mining, and extortion.

According to the independent think tank Indepaz, the Gulf Clan has a presence in around 300 localities across the country. However, the organization has been devastated as a result of recent government actions.

Despite Otoniel's announcement in 2017 that he planned to work with the Colombian court system, the government responded by dispatching at least 1,000 soldiers to track him down.

He succeeded his brother Juan de Dios, who was assassinated by authorities in 2012, as chief of the Gulf Clan, formerly known as the Usuga Clan.

Otoniel joined the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), a Marxist guerrilla group that demobilized in 1991, after growing up in a disadvantaged home.

He then returned to fighting after laying down his arms, joining far-right paramilitary groups.

Many of them were demobilized in 2006 at the request of former right-wing president Alvaro Uribe's government, but Otoniel chose to stay in the struggle.

Despite a half-century of attempts to curb the drug trade, Colombia is the world's largest provider of cocaine, with the United States as its primary market.

Criminal gangs like as the Gulf Clan, dissident FARC insurgents, and leftist ELN rebels conduct brutal turf conflicts to dominate drug trafficking corridors and illegal mining operations in rural areas where there is little government presence.

Content created and supplied by: Alien Flani (via Opera News )

Colombia Dairo Antonio Usuga Gulf Clan Otoniel Panamanian

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