Colombia receives US extradition request for accused drug lord

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The Colombian army captured Dero Antonio Usuga, the leader of the Gulf tribe known as Otonial, last month after a seven-year search.

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Colombia has said it has received a formal request from the United States to extradite accused drug kingpin Dero Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel.

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The 50-year-old alleged leader of the Gulf clan was captured by Colombia’s armed forces late last month, ending a seven-year search.

Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Thursday that “administrative procedures” related to extradition have already been carried out by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that the request was sent to the Supreme Court of Justice yesterday.

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The duke said he spoke to Supreme Court President Luis Antonio Hernández to get the matter settled as soon as possible.

Otoniel is accused of exporting hundreds of tons of cocaine annually and was on the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s wanted list for years.

In addition to Colombia offering 3 billion pesos (about $800,000) for information, US officials offered $5m for information on his capture.

According to local officials, the Gulf tribe is responsible for the deaths of more than 200 members of Colombia’s security forces.

Colombia’s Supreme Court has already approved the extradition of the Gulf clan’s second-in-command, Antonio Moreno Tuberquia, also known as Nicolas.

Otonial holds seven convictions in Colombia and 128 arrest warrants for the offenses of drug trafficking, arms trafficking, murder, sexual violence, conspiracy to commit crimes and forced displacement.

The Gulf Klan, or Clan del Golfo, boasts more than 1,200 fighters and is associated with drug trafficking and illegal mining, as well as the killings of community leaders.

According to statistics from the Colombian National Police, it operates in 12 of the 32 provinces of Colombia.

Colombia’s Defense Minister Diego Molano said last month after Otonial’s capture that “all those who have committed international crimes await the extradition.”

According to police, Colombian authorities launched Operation Agamemnon in 2016 as they worked to shut down Otoniel, killing and capturing dozens of his lieutenants, going after their finances and letting them continue to move. force to.

Despite decades of fighting against drug trafficking, Colombia remains a top global producer of cocaine and faces continued US pressure to reduce its coca crop, the drug’s main ingredient, and cocaine production.

Drug trafficking helps finance illegal armed groups in Colombia amid a long-running internal conflict that has killed more than 260,000 people.

So far this year, Colombia’s armed forces have seized a record 595 tonnes of cocaine, Duque said, breaking the previous record of 505 tonnes in 2020.

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