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Former Colombian drug lord pleads guilty in US

Dailo Antonio Usuga David, known as “Othoniel”, was the leader of one of the largest Colombian militia groups, the Gulf Clan.

A former Colombian drug trafficker has admitted to overseeing a vast network of criminal activities and cocaine smuggling, including a violent militia known as the Clan del Golfo or Gulf Clan Cartel.

Taro Antonio Usuga DavidHe is better known as Othoniel.

“A large amount of cocaine was moved with my permission or at my direction,” he told the court.

“There was a lot of violence by guerrillas and criminal gangs,” he added, admitting that “military operations involved killings.”

Othoniel was once one of the world’s most wanted drug traffickers and was arrested by Colombian authorities. October 2021 After years of eluding capture. He was extradited to the United States in May 2022.

Brought to you by the Wangan clan violence and exploitation Use brutal force to control a major cocaine smuggling route into a region of northern Colombia.

the public prosecutor Accused Othoniel Or he faces a minimum of 20 years in prison for smuggling “exorbitant” amounts of cocaine into the United part of Extradition agreement with ColombiaUS prosecutors have agreed not to seek life imprisonment in his case.

The Gulf Klan, also known as the Gaitanist Self-Defense Force, mobilized thousands of recruits to clash with Colombian authorities, militias and rival gangs.

Othoniel admitted that the group imposed a “tax” on cocaine produced, stored, or transported through its territory by other groups. Prosecutors allege that he ordered the killing and torture of those he considered enemies.

“Today’s guilty plea ends the bloody reign of the most violent and important Colombian drug trafficker since Pablo Escobar,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.

Usuga’s attorney, Paul Nalven, said his client was “extremely remorseful” for his role in the “chain of violence”. He said he was involved in “guerrilla” warfare in Colombia when he was 16.

For years, drug trafficking legacy of violence It has affected the lives of millions of Colombians, and authorities have used draconian measures to track down criminal syndicates like the Gulf Klan.

But militarized approaches have had mixed results, Human rights violations by government.

A report detailing the country’s nearly 60-year civil war, released in June, said: Columbia Truth Commission He said the government’s drug policy prolongs the fighting. More than 450,000 people have been killed in conflicts between government forces, paramilitaries, cartels and left-wing rebel groups.

Under a policy called Plan Colombia, launched in 2000, the United States poured money and military aid into the country to combat left-wing rebels and drug cartels.

The Colombian government’s strategy changed in the mid-2010s, when officials signed a 2016 peace deal with the then-largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Yet the illegal trade in cocaine is still prominent in Colombia, the world’s largest drug producer. In 2022, the United Nations announced that he had harvested 204,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of coca, the raw material for cocaine, last year. maximum area Recorded for decades.

A Truth Commission report recommended sweeping changes to Colombia’s drug policy, and current President Gustavo Petro, a former member of an armed rebel group, has been pushing negotiations with the armed group ever since. rice field. his election June 2022.

Earlier this month, Peter announced The government will reduce its focus on compulsory coca plant eradication, a cornerstone of its anti-drug policy for years.

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