Authorities Capture Alias Otoniel, the Most Wanted Narcotrafficker in Colombia

Authorities Capture Alias Otoniel, the Most Wanted Narcotrafficker in Colombia

By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo
November 08, 2021

Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias Otoniel, head of the Clan del Golfo, was arrested in Necoclí, Antioquia, on October 23, 2021, in a joint operation carried out by the Colombian National Police and the Colombian Armed Forces, the Colombian Military Forces’ General Command said in a statement.

His capture “is the toughest blow to narcotrafficking in this century in our country […] and is only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s,” President Iván Duque said via Twitter.

Alias Otoniel was among the most wanted criminals for narcotrafficking, child recruitment and abuse, Duque said. The Colombian government had an $800,000 reward, while the United States offered $5 million for information leading to his capture, the newspaper El Colombiano reported.

Alias Otoniel was trafficking 200 tons of cocaine hydrochloride per year to the United States and Europe with the Clan del Golfo. (Photo: Colombian Military Forces’ General Command)

The arrest is the result of “the work of all the forces […], but also the cooperation of U.S. and British intelligence agencies, due to the international danger that this criminal posed,” Duque said.

Security rings

Colombian authorities gradually uncovered the security rings and the corridors through which alias Otoniel moved to achieve strategic positioning on the ground, Colombian Army General Luis Fernando Navarro, commander of the Military Forces, said.

“We used satellite work with the support of U.S. and British agencies, more than 50 experts in signals intelligence with precise coverage to get him out of where he was. He never returned to any house; he slept in rough conditions,” Navarro “The criminal never had the chance to meet with his support networks or leave the area,” he said.

“You beat me,” alias Otoniel said upon his capture, the Ministry of Defense reported, adding that alias Otoniel was trafficking 200 tons of cocaine hydrochloride annually with the Clan del Golfo, and is responsible for killing more than 200 members of Colombia’s security force.

Police Lieutenant Edwin Guillermo Blanco, commander of the Carabineros mobile squad that confronted alias Otoniel’s security rings, died during the operation, the Colombian newspaper El Espectador reported.  

On October 24, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the public force will continue to dismantle the Clan del Golfo and is going after the group’s second-in-command Wilmer Quiroz, alias Siopas, as well as his aid Jesús Ávila Villadiego, alias Chiquito Malo.