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Colombia receives US request for release of drug traffickers accused | Crime Stories

Colombian troops captured Gulf Clan Dairo leader Antonio Usuga, better known as Otoniel, last month after a seven-year search.

Colombia says it has received a request from the United States to extradite drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel.

The 50-year-old Gulf Clan leader has been captured by Colombian troops at the end of last month, to complete a seven-year investigation.

Colombian President Ivan Duque said Thursday that “operational procedures” related to the release “have already taken place with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and yesterday the request was submitted to the Supreme Court”.

Duque said he had spoken to Luis Antonio Hernandez, President of the Supreme Court, to request that the matter be resolved as soon as possible.

Otoniel is accused of shipping hundreds of tons of cocaine each year and has been on the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s official list for years.

U.S. officials paid $ 5m to find out more about his arrest, in addition to the 3 billion pesos (about $ 800,000) that Colombia donated for more information.

The Gulf Clan group has killed more than 200 security personnel in Colombia, according to government officials.

The Colombian Supreme Court has already approved the release of Gulf Clan’s second-in-command, Antonio Moreno Tuberquia, also known as Nicolas.

Otoniel has seven counts in Colombia and 128 arrests for drug trafficking, arms sales, murder, sexual assault, criminal conspiracy and forced deportation.

The Gulf Clan, or Clan del Golfo, has more than 1,200 militiamen and is involved in drug trafficking and illegal mining, as well as the killing of community leaders.

It operates in 12 of Colombia’s 32 districts, according to Colombian police.

“Extradition awaits all perpetrators of global violence,” Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano said last month after Otoniel’s arrest.

Colombian authorities launched Operation Agamemnon in 2016 while working to arrest Otoniel, kill and abduct many of his superiors, trace his finances and force him to travel on a regular basis, according to police.

Despite decades of struggle with drug trafficking, Colombia still exists the world’s largest producer of cocaine and is facing constant US pressure to reduce its cocaine, which is highly concentrated by the drug, as well as cocaine production.

Drug trafficking helps pay for illicit militias in Colombia center long-term internal conflict which killed more than 260,000 people.

So far this year, Colombia the army has taken over a history of 595 tons of cocaine, says Duque, breaking the record of 505 tons in 2020.

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