Drug lord 'Otoniel': Colombia extradites 'most dangerous trafficker' to the US

Dairo Antonio Usuga had been on country's most-wanted list before his capture in October

Colombian drug trafficker Dairo Antonio Usuga David, also known as 'Otoniel', is escorted by police after Colombia extradites him to the US. Reuters
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One of Colombia's most notorious drug kingpins was extradited to the US on Wednesday where he will face trafficking charges.

Dairo Antonio Usuga David, the alleged head of the feared Gulf Clan, had been Colombia's most-wanted drug lord before his capture in October.

He faces indictments in three federal courts in the US, AP reported.

Colombian President Iván Duque said Usuga David is “comparable only to Pablo Escobar”, referring to the late former head of the Medellin drug cartel.

"I want to reveal that Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias 'Otoniel' has been extradited," Mr Duque said on Twitter, calling him "the most dangerous drug trafficker in the world."

Better known by his alias Otoniel, the former rural warlord had been on the run for more than a decade by corrupting state officials and aligning himself with combatants on the left and right.

Usuga David was transferred on Wednesday in handcuffs and wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest from a prison in Bogotá to a heavily guarded military transport air field.

Colombian drug lord and head of the Gulf Clan Dairo Antonio Usuga is escorted by Colombian police on May 4, 2022. AFP

Long a fixture on the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted list, Usuga David was first indicted in 2009, in the Manhattan federal court, on narcotics charges and for allegedly providing assistance to a far-right paramilitary group designated a terrorist organisation by the US.

Later indictments in Brooklyn and Miami federal courts accused him of importing into the US at least 73 metric tonnes of cocaine between 2003 and 2014 through countries including Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Honduras.

The process of sending Usuga David to the US began after Colombia's top administrative tribunal lifted a provisional order suspending his extradition.

Authorities say the 50 year old is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of members of Colombia's security forces, Reuters reported.

He is wanted in the US for crimes including drug trafficking, conspiracy and illegally possessing weapons.

Colombia abolished extradition to the US in 1991 amid a terror campaign of killings and bombings by drug cartels, but the practice was restored by Congress in 1997.

Colombian authorities say Usuga David was captured during an operation by security forces involving hundreds of men and almost two dozen helicopters, although he later told the Special Jurisdiction for Peace tribunal he handed himself in.

Updated: May 05, 2022, 5:51 AM