Dairo Antonio Usuga David, often known as ‘Otoniel’, was chief of the Gulf Clan, one in all Colombia’s largest paramilitary teams.
A former Colombian drug trafficker has admitted to overseeing an enormous community of legal operations and cocaine smuggling, together with a violent paramilitary group often known as the Clan del Golfo or the Gulf Clan cartel.
Dairo Antonio Usuga David, higher often known as Otoniel, pleaded responsible to expenses of drug distribution and operating a seamless legal enterprise earlier than a United States federal courtroom in Brooklyn, New York, on Wednesday.
“Tons of cocaine were moved with my permission or at my direction,” he informed the courtroom.
“There was a lot of violence with the guerrillas and the criminal gangs,” he added, acknowledging that “in military work, homicides were committed”.
Otoniel was as soon as one of the crucial wished drug traffickers on the planet and was arrested by Colombian authorities in October 2021 after eluding seize for years. He was extradited to the US in Could 2022.
The Gulf Clan introduced violence and exploitation to areas of northern Colombia, utilizing brutal pressure to regulate main cocaine smuggling routes.
Prosecutors have accused Otoniel of smuggling “outrageous” quantities of cocaine into the US, and he faces a minimal sentence of 20 years in jail. As a part of an extradition deal with Colombia, US prosecutors agreed they’d not search a life sentence in his case. A sentencing date has but to be determined.
The Gulf Clan, often known as the Gaitanist Self-Protection Forces, have enlisted 1000’s of recruits to conflict with Colombian authorities, paramilitary teams and rival gangs.
Otoniel admitted that the group administered “taxes” on cocaine produced, saved or transported via its territory by different teams. Prosecutors allege that he ordered the killing and torture of perceived enemies.
“With today’s guilty plea, the bloody reign of the most violent and significant Colombian narcotics trafficker since Pablo Escobar is over,” Brooklyn US Lawyer Breon Peace stated in a press release.
Usuga’s defence lawyer Paul Nalven stated that his consumer was “very remorseful” about his function within the “cycle of violence”. Nalven said that Usuga obtained solely a fourth-grade schooling and was pulled into “guerrilla” warfare in Colombia when he was 16.
For years, drug trafficking has contributed to a legacy of violence that has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of Colombians, and authorities have used harsh measures to go after legal organisations just like the Gulf Clan.
Nevertheless, the militarised strategy has introduced blended outcomes and has helped gasoline allegations of human rights abuses by the federal government.
In a report launched in June detailing the nation’s almost six-decade civil battle, Colombia’s Truth Commission stated authorities drug insurance policies had extended the combating. Greater than 450,000 individuals have been killed within the battle between authorities forces, paramilitary organisations, cartels and left-wing insurgent teams.
Underneath a coverage known as Plan Colombia, launched in 2000, the US poured cash and army help into the nation to fight left-wing rebels and drug cartels.
Colombia’s authorities technique shifted within the mid-2010s, with officers signing a 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the biggest insurgent group on the time.
Nonetheless, the unlawful cocaine commerce has remained distinguished in Colombia, the world’s largest producer of the drug. In 2022, the United Nations stated that the earlier yr’s crop of coca, the uncooked ingredient for cocaine, coated 204,000 hectares (500,000 acres) — the largest area recorded in a long time.
The Reality Fee’s report advisable sweeping adjustments to Colombia’s drug insurance policies, and present President Gustavo Petro, a former member of an armed insurgent group, has pushed for negotiations with armed teams since his election in June 2022.
Earlier this month, Petro announced that the federal government would lower its emphasis on compelled coca plant eradication, a staple of its anti-drug coverage for years.