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Jungle Raid: Columbia’s Most Notorious Drug Lord Arrested

Colombia's Notorious Drug Leader
Colombia's Notorious Drug Leader arrested. (Photo: DW)

Colombian authorities have arrested the country’s most notorious drug trafficker in a jungle raid on Saturday.

50-year-old Dario Antonio Úsuga, most commonly known as Otoniel, is Colombia’s most-wanted drug trafficker. Colombia’s authorities arrested Úsuga on Saturday, October 23, in a jungle raid in Columbia’s Uraba region, located in Antioquia province.

Columbia’s President Iván Duque compared Úsuga’s arrest on Saturday to Pablo Escobar’s capture three decades ago. According to Duque, this is Columbia’s most significant blow this century, and it is comparable to the blow of Pablo Escobar’s fall.

According to authorities, the information provided by the United States and the United Kingdom led over 500 military and members of Colombia’s special forces to raid Úsuga’s hideout. An eight-ring security system reportedly guarded the hideout that was located in one of the country’s jungles. The President stated that one officer died during the raid.

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Úsuga’s Indictments

Úsuga is the alleged leader of the Gulf Clan (Clan del Golfo), Columbia’s largest narco-trafficking gang. The clan reportedly terrorized most of Northern Colombia in order to seize control of the drug smuggling routes North to Central America through thick jungles. 

President Duque reportedly stated that Úsuga is wanted for murdering police, recruiting minors, and sexually assaulting children. The Columbian government previously offered an $800,000 for any information regarding his whereabouts.

Úsuga has long been a part of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted wanted fugitive list, with the agency offering a $5 million reward for his capture. In 2009, Manhattan federal court indicted Úsuga with narcotics and for supporting a paramilitary group. He was also charged with importing 73 metric tons of cocaine into the U.S. in Brooklyn and Miami.

Usuga's 2017 video

Dario Antonio Úsuga revealed his face on video last 2017 to plead with the government (Photo: Columbia Report)

Off The Radar

For years, Úsuga allegedly moved in various safe houses every night to hold out against the military’s scorched-earth operation against the Gulf Clan. He also remained undetected by avoiding the high profile of Colombia’s well-known narcos. Columbians grew afraid of Gulf clans throughout the years of Úsuga being undetected due to the underage women he and his clan allegedly abused sexually.

In 2017, during Pope Francis’ visit to Columbia, Úsuga revealed his face for the first time. He released a video in which he pleaded with the government to allow his cohort to lay down its weapons and demobilize as part of the country’s peace process. His plead, however, did not come to fruition.

His arrest on Saturday may have ended the decade-long search. However, authorities believed that Úsuga’s fall would not hinder the clan from continuing its illegal operations and that another leader would soon rise.

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