The alleged leader of the Clan del Golfo and Colombian drug lord Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias ‘Otoniel’, pleaded not guilty on Thursday before a Brooklyn court judge in New York, where he faces charges for crimes associated with drug trafficking.
Othniel went extradited to the United States on Wednesday.
The Attorney General for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace, applauded the arrival of the drug trafficker to face justice. During a press conference, Peace described him as “one of the largest cocaine dealers in the world.”
“Also known as the ‘Urabeños’, the ‘Clan Úsuga’ is located in Urabá Antioquia, with hundreds of people who are part of this criminal group, and they have more employees and henchmen,” said Peace.
Otoniel “believed himself untouchable until now. He murdered without mercy, and violence was his currency. This leader of the Gulf Cartel is responsible for sending tons of cocaine to the United States, accumulated billions of dollars and built an army that killed and kidnapped hundreds of people,” prosecutor Peace added.
The alleged head of the ‘Clan del Golfo’ participated in more than 40 acts of buying and selling cocaine from Colombia to Central America, Mexico and finally to the United States, said the prosecutor.
The head of the DEA, the anti-drug agency, Anne Milgram, who also participated in the press conference, assured that the United States is “proud” to bring ‘Otoniel’ to justice.
“The DEA continues to work to dismantle the ‘Clan del Golfo,'” he said, explaining that 90% of all the cocaine that reaches the US comes from Colombia.
He also said that “Otoniel” and his cartel worked with the Sinaloa cartel and the New Generation Cartel and that during his criminal career, he moved 90,000 kilos of cocaine, with a street value of 2,000 million dollars.
Also in New York is Daniel Rendón-Herrera, who was head of the Clan del Golfo before “Otoniel” and pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in November in Brooklyn. He is expected to be sentenced in November.
Considered the most wanted drug trafficker in Colombia, “Otoniel” is accused of manufacturing and transporting thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to Central America with the ultimate goal of importing them into the US between 2002 and 2021.
The court for the Eastern District of New York also says that Úsuga David collected a “tax” from drug traffickers who operated in the areas under his control and hired hit men to commit murders, attacks and kidnappings.
The Colombian government launched the extradition of the capo after the Colombian Council of State lifted on Wednesday a provisional suspension of the order in which the Colombian president, Iván Duque, endorsed the extradition.
The high court dismissed a petition from a group of victims of Úsuga David who alleged that their rights to justice and reparation would be violated with the extradition and asked that he first respond for the more than 128 proceedings against him in Colombia.
Duque assured that from the United States Úsuga must continue collaborating with the Colombian authorities in the investigations that are advancing against him and once he completes his sentences for drug trafficking, he will return to “Colombia to pay for the crimes he committed.”
According to the indictment in the Brooklyn court, “Otoniel” faces three charges: operating a criminal enterprise continuously, criminal association to produce and distribute cocaine, and use of weapons. The first charge lists dozens of violations, each for transporting shipments of approximately 2,000 kilos of cocaine.
“Otoniel” reaped a criminal career since his adolescence, first passing through a guerrilla from which he demobilized and then joining various paramilitary groups. He became the head of the Clan del Golfo drug trafficking organization -also called Los Urabeños and Clan Úsuga- after the capture of its boss Rendón Herrera.
[Con información de AP]
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