Accused drug lord's three words to police after being captured

·2-min read

The man Colombia describes as the world's most dangerous drug trafficker told security forces, "You beat me", when he was captured during an operation this weekend, the government says, pledging to extradite him swiftly to the United States.

Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, was caught by Colombia's armed forces during an operation in a rural area of Colombia's Uraba region, Antioquia province, which involved more than 500 members of Colombia's special forces and 22 helicopters, officials said on Saturday (local time).

Otoniel is accused of exporting hundreds of tonnes of cocaine each year, while President Ivan Duque said on Saturday he was also responsible for killing police officers, recruiting minors and sexually abusing children.

Dairo Antonio Usuga David (centre), also known as Otoniel, flanked by authorities after his capture in Colombia. Source: Colombian Presidency
Dairo Antonio Usuga David (centre), also known as Otoniel, flanked by authorities after his capture in Colombia. Source: Colombian Presidency

Colombia's government would file a petition on Monday with the Andean country's Supreme Court to extradite Otoniel to the United States, Justice Minister Wilson Ruiz told Reuters, adding the process could take a month to complete.

Colombia had offered a reward of up to three billion pesos (about AU$1 million) for information concerning Otoniel's whereabouts, while the US government had put up a reward of US$5 million (AU$6.7 million).

Both rewards would be paid, Colombia's Defence Minister Diego Molano said, while describing Otoniel as "the worst kind" of criminal.

Who is Otoniel, the 'world's most dangerous drug lord'?

Otoniel, 50, rose to become the leader of the drug-trafficking group Clan del Golfo, or Gulf Clan, following stints as a left-wing guerrilla and later as a paramilitary.

The Clan del Golfo has a presence in 12 of Colombia's 32 provinces and counts some 3800 members, according to Colombia's national police.

Clan del Golfo is involved as well with illegal mining, authorities say. 

Otoniel is pictured is a police mugshot. He is alleged to be the head of  drug-trafficking group Clan del Golfo.
Police allege Otoniel rose to become the leader of the drug-trafficking group Clan del Golfo. Source: National Police of Colombia via AAP

The government also accuses the group of threatening and killing community leaders across the country.

Colombia's police chief General Jorge Vargas said much of the information leading to Otoniel's capture came from Clan del Golfo members.

"A lot of Clan del Golfo's people betrayed him," General Vargas said.

Otoniel trafficked between 180 tonnes and 200 tonnes of cocaine a year with the Clan del Golfo, and was responsible for the deaths of more than 200 members of Colombia's security forces, the defence ministry said.

Authorities launched Operation Agamemnon in 2016 as they worked to close in on Otoniel, killing and capturing dozens of his lieutenants, going after his finances and forcing him to be constantly on the move, according to police.

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