Colombia’s most wanted drug trafficker and the leader of the country’s largest criminal gang has been arrested.
Dairo Antonio Úsuga, popularly known as Otoniel, was captured after a joint operation by the army, air force and police on Saturday, October 23rd.
The government had offered a $800,000 (£582,000) reward for information about his whereabouts, while the US placed a $5m ransom on his head.
Columbian’s President, Iván Duque hailed Otoniel’s arrest which he described as
“the biggest blow against drug trafficking in our country this century, This blow is only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s”, he said. The operation leading to Otoniel’s arrest has also been described by many in Columbia as the biggest penetration of the jungle ever seen in the military history of our Columbia.
Otoniel, the notorious drug kingpin was captured in his rural hideout in Antioquia province in north-western Colombia, close to the border with Panama
The operation involved 500 soldiers supported by 22 helicopters. One police officer was however killed in the operation.
Otoniel had used a network of rural safe houses to move around and evade the authorities, and did not use a phone, He has been relying on couriers for communication.
Columbia’s Police chief, Jorge Vargas has said the drug lord has been evasive of arrest, he was never seen around inhabited areas.
His movements were traced by more than 50 signal intelligence experts. The US and UK agencies were involved in the search.
Mr Duque, quoted by AFP news agency, described the operation as “the biggest penetration of the jungle ever seen in the military history of our country