Colombia's most wanted drug lord is captured during a jungle raid

Colombian security forces captured the country's most wanted drug dealer. He was a rural warlord who had been on the run for over a decade, corrupting state officials and aligning with left- and right-leaning combatants.

Colombia's most wanted drug lord is captured during a jungle raid

President Ivan Duque compared Saturday's arrest of Dairo Antonio Uzur to Pablo Escobar's capture over three decades ago.

Colombia's military presented Usuga in handcuffs to the media, while wearing rubber boots that rural farmers prefer and wearing rubber boots.

Otoniel is Usuga, who is better known as Otoniel. He is the alleged leader of the Gulf Clan. His army of assassins terrorized northern Colombia in order to seize control of major cocaine smuggling routes.

Since 2009, he has been a fixture of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted list of fugitives. The reward for his capture was $5 million. Indicted on narcotics and aiding a paramilitary group that was designated as a terrorist organization in the United States, he was initially indicted in Manhattan federal court in 2009. Indictments in Brooklyn federal court and Miami federal court later indicted him for importing into the U.S. at most 73 metric tonnes of cocaine between 2003-2014 through countries such as Venezuela, Guatemala and Mexico, Panama and Honduras.

He's like many of his gunmen and has cycled through the ranks in several guerrilla groups. Most recently, he claimed to be the Gaitanist self-defense forces of Colombia. This is after being inspired by a mid-20th-century Colombian leftist firebrand.

According to authorities, intelligence from the U.S. or U.K. led over 500 soldiers and members Colombia's special forces into Usuga's jungle hideout. The hideout was guarded by eight rings of security.

By avoiding the more prominent narcos in Colombia, Usuga managed to stay under the radar for many years.

His brother and he were killed in a raid in 2012. They started out as gunmen for the now defunct leftist militant group the Popular Liberation Army. Later, they switched sides to join the rebels' battlefield adversaries, a right-wing paramilitary organization.

When the militia signed a peace agreement with the government in 2006 he refused to disarm. Instead he continued his investigation into Colombia's criminal underground and set up operations in the strategic Gulf of Uraba area in northern Colombia. This is a major drug corridor that is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Caribbean sea on the other.

He allegedly used leaks to escape a military campaign against the Gulf Clan. His legend as a bandit grew along with horror stories from Colombian authorities about the many women he and his associates allegedly sexually abused.

The war was causing a lot of pain for the 50-year old fugitive. He even pleaded with Pope Francis to allow him to sleep on orthopedic mattresses while on the run to heal a back injury. He revealed his face for the first-time in 2017 during Pope Francis' visit to Colombia. In a video, he requested that his group be allowed leave the country and allow them to demobilize.

His arrest is a positive sign for Duque, a conservative politician whose law and order rhetoric has not been able to keep up with the soaring cocaine production.

According to a White House report, the area dedicated to coca production -- the main ingredient in cocaine -- increased by 16% to record 245,000 ha last year. This is a record that has not been reached in the two decades of U.S. eradication efforts.

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