After a decade on the run, Colombia's most wanted drug lord is finally captured
500 soldiers and 22 helicopters were involved in the operation.
Dairo Antonio Úsuga, Colombia's most wanted drug lord and leader of the country's largest criminal gang, has been captured.
Úsuga, better known as Otoniel, was captured after a huge operation by the army, air force and police on Saturday, with the news of his capture being hailed by Colombia's president in a televised video message.
He said: "This is the biggest blow against drug trafficking in our country this century. This blow is only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s."
The government had placed a $800,000 (€686,800) reward for information about his whereabouts, while the US placed a $5m bounty on his head.
One police officer was killed in the operation.
La victoria es de todos. El mayor cabecilla del ‘Clan del Golfo’ ha sido capturado por nuestra Fuerza Pública. Dairo Antonio Uzuga alias ‘Otoniel’ uno de los mayores reclutadores de menores, narcotraficante y terrorista de Colombia fue detenido en Necoclí, Antioquia pic.twitter.com/AkPF0lu3Cq
— Mindefensa (@mindefensa) October 24, 2021
According to the BBC, Otoniel was captured in his rural hideout in Antioquia province in north-western Colombia, close to the border with Panama.
He had used a network of rural safe houses to move around and evade authorities, relying on couriers for communication so that he didn't have to use a phone.
Two weeks ago though his location was pinpointed, and this was where he was captured according to El Tiempo.
Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, alias Otoniel — leader of the Urabeños and Colombia’s most wanted drug lord — has been captured…https://t.co/hvaABiQyu1 via @elcolombiano pic.twitter.com/xPh3v3SReK
— Keegan Hamilton (@keegan_hamilton) October 23, 2021
Otoniel was the head of the Gulf Clan, Colombia's most powerful criminal organisation, which engages in drug and people smuggling, illegal gold mining and extortion, and is believed to have 1,800 armed members.
Otoniel will now face a number of charges, including sending shipments of cocaine to the US, killing police officers and recruiting children.
He was indicted in the US in 2009, and faces extradition proceedings, which could see him eventually appear in court in New York.