Otoniel's arrest is the biggest blow to Colombian drug trafficking since the killing of Pablo Escobar, says Colombian president.
Security forces in Colombia have captured Dairo Antonio Usuga, the countries most wanted drug lord. Better known by his alias 'Otoniel', he is the leader of the Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, or the Gulf Clan, he was captured on Saturday in a rural area in the Uraba region.
Colombia's president, Ivan Durque has hailed the capture of Otoniel as a national victory, claiming it to be the biggest blow against the countries drug trafficking problem since the death of Pablo Escobar in 1993.
“This is the biggest blow against drug trafficking in our country this century,” Duque said during a news conference. “This hit is only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s.”
President Durque has already confirmed that the Colombian government is working on extraditing Otoniel, most likely to the United States, where he was indicted in 2009 in a Manhattan federal court on drug trafficking charges.
The 50-year-old drug lord also faces criminal charges in Miami and Brooklyn in the US on charges of “operating continuing criminal enterprises, participating in international cocaine trafficking conspiracies and using firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes”
Authorities have said that Otoniel's capture falls in line with a military tactic used in Latin America, known as the "kingpin strategy", where security forces seek to take out the leader of a criminal enterprise in order to cripple the group from the very top.
This is the strategy that was used in 1993, that resulted in the killing of Pablo Escobar, who was at the time the leader of the Colombian Medellin cartel, a similar tactic was also employed in the capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in 2016, the former head of the powerful Sinaloa cartel from Mexico.
This strategy has often been criticised by experts, many believe that it often has the opposite effect than it's intention, causing in-fighting within armed groups and creates new power struggles within the organisations, often resulting in even more violence. This certainly appears to be the case following the capture of El Chapo and the Killing of Pablo Escobar.
A Colombian human rights defender who has received death threats from the Gulf Clan over her work advocating for victims of conflict said she is worried Otoniel’s arrest could worsen violence in her home region, Los Montes de Maria.
“The Gulf Clan in the Montes de Maria gets stronger every day,” said the human rights defender, who wished to remain anonymous. “Every day, their forces grow.
“They may have taken out the boss, but there are other bosses and other gangs that keep gaining control,” she said. “Instead of reducing the violence, the violence is only going to get worse … These people are going to continue arming, they’re going to continue threatening us and they’re going to continue extorting.”
Only time will tell as to what impact, if any, the capture of Otoniel has on the Colombian drug trafficking problem. We will keep you updated on this story as it progresses, make sure you follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on the new releases. Now you have read this story, check out how a Mexican drug cartel sent a severed head to the new police chief on his first day.