Accused Colombian drug lord Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, dubbed “the most dangerous drug trafficker in the world,” was extradited to the US Wednesday and will appear in Brooklyn federal court later Thursday, prosecutors said.
Úsuga David, 50, also known as Otoniel, is the suspected leader of Colombia’s feared Clan del Golfo drug cartel. He faces cocaine trafficking and weapons charges in the US, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.
After spending more than a decade on the run, Úsuga David was captured by 500 Colombian soldiers last October in what is believed by some to be the biggest blow to drug trafficking in Colombia since the killing of infamous drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in 1993.
Colombian authorities have said Úsuga David trafficked between 180 and 200 tons of cocaine a year with the Clan del Golfo and was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of members of the South American country’s security forces.
Úsuga David faces three criminal charges in the United States including conspiring to manufacture and distribute cocaine.
He is expected to be read the charges at an arraignment in federal court in Brooklyn Thursday afternoon.
Daniel Rendon Herrera, an Úsuga David associate known as Don Mario, pleaded guilty in a federal court last November to charges of shipping cocaine to US territory and buying weapons for paramilitary figures he commanded. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Colombian President Ivan Duque on Wednesday said Úsuga David’s extradition “shows nobody is above the Colombian state.”
Duque went on to say of Úsuga David that “he is not only the most dangerous drug trafficker in the world, but he is murderer of social leaders, abuser of boys, girls and adolescents, a murderer of policemen.”
The former rural warlord had stayed one step ahead of Colombia’s military for more than a decade by corrupting state officials and aligning himself with combatants on the left and right. He was transferred Wednesday in handcuffs and wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest from a prison in Bogotá to a heavily guarded military transport air field en route to the US.
He was first indicted in 2009, in Manhattan federal court, on narcotics charges and for allegedly providing assistance to a far-right paramilitary group designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Later indictments in Brooklyn and Miami federal courts accused him of importing into the U.S. at least 73 metric tons of cocaine between 2003 and 2014 through countries including Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Honduras.
Úsuga David’s also cycled through the ranks of several guerrilla groups, most recently claiming to lead the Gaitanist Self Defense Forces of Colombia.
Duque said that from the United States, Úsuga would continue collaborating with the Colombian authorities in the investigations against him and once he completes his sentences for drug trafficking, he will return to “Colombia to pay for the crimes he committed.”
The Clan del Golfo’s army of assassins terrorized much of northern Colombia to gain control of major cocaine smuggling routes through thick jungles north to Central America and onto the U.S.
As he defied authorities for years, his legend as a bandit grew alongside the horror stories told by Colombian authorities of the many underage women he and his cohorts allegedly abused sexually.
With Post Wires