500 soldiers, 22 helicopters used to capture Colombia’s most-wanted drug trafficker

A Colombia’s most-wanted drug trafficker, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, popularly called Otoniel has been captured, at his jungle hideout at Antioquia province in north-western Colombia close to the border with Panama.

Penpushing reports that, the country’s security forces involving 500 soldiers assisted by 22 helicopters carried out the operation while a police officer was reported dead during the operation

The 50 year old leader of the country’s largest criminal gang had used a network of rural safe houses to move around and evade the authorities, and did not use a phone, but said to be relying on couriers for communication.

Penpushing further reports that Colombia Police Chief Jorge Vargas said his movements were traced by more than 50 signal intelligence experts using satellite imagery, while American and United Kingdom were involved in the search.”

The report has it that, there have been several huge operations involving thousands of officers to capture Otoniel in recent years, who became the head of the Gulf Clan, previously known as the Usuga Clan, after its previous leader – his brother – was killed by police in a raid on a New Year’s Eve party in 2012.

Penpushing also reports that, the notorious drug kingpin gang has been labeled by Colombia’s security forces  as the country’s most powerful criminal organisation, while  American authorities describe it as heavily armed and extremely violent.

The gang is said to, operate in many provinces and has extensive international connections and also engaged in drug and people smuggling, illegal gold mining and extortion, while it is  believed to have about 1,800 armed members, who are mainly recruited from far-right paramilitary groups.

Penpushing reports that, members have been arrested in Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Peru and Spain, while the gang controls many of the routes used to smuggle drugs from Colombia to the United States of America(USA), and as far away as Russia.”

The Colombian government, however, believes it has decimated its numbers in recent years, forcing many leading members to hide in remote regions in the jungle, and Otoniel now faces a number of charges, including sending shipments of cocaine to the America, killing police officers and recruiting children.

Penpushing further reports that, it is recalled that, Colombian government had offered $800,000 reward for information about his whereabouts, while the American government placed a bounty of $5 million on his head.

The Colombia President  Ivan Duque in reaction, praised capture of the drug baron, describing it as  a victory which he  likened  to the arrest three decades ago of the notorious Colombian drug kingpin, Pablo Escobar.

Penpushing also reports that, Duque declared the operation as the biggest penetration of the jungle ever seen in the military history of the country, adding that the arrest marks the end of the Gulf Clan.

“This is the biggest blow against drug trafficking in our country this century. This hit is only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s.The biggest penetration of the jungle ever seen in the military history of our country”, he emphasised

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