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A crazy thing Colombia's most-wanted drug lord was a paedophile who used witchcraft to avoid authorities

'This blow is only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s'

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Colombia's most wanted drug lord, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, better known as Otoniel, who was captured in a joint operation by the army, air force and police last Saturday.

Colombia's most wanted drug lord, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, better known as Otoniel, who was captured in a joint operation by the army, air force and police last Saturday.

Colombia's most wanted drug lord, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, better known as Otoniel, who was captured in a joint operation by the army, air force and police last Saturday.

Colombia's most wanted drug lord, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, better known as Otoniel, who was captured in a joint operation by the army, air force and police last Saturday was a paedophile who used witchcraft to avoid authorities. 

Otoniel was captured in his rural hideout in Antioquia province in north-western Colombia, close to the border with Panama, in an operation involving 500 soldiers supported by 22 helicopters.

One police officer was killed before Otoniel was led away in handcuffs following the raid.

Police chief Jorge Vargas who said the drug lord was fearful of capture, "never approaching inhabited areas” and had used a network of rural safe houses to move around and evade the authorities.

He never used a phone, and instead relied on couriers for communication.

However, with a $800,000 (£582,000) reward for information about his whereabouts, and a $5m bounty on his head from the US government, he was a target of high importance.

His movements were traced by more than 50 signal intelligence experts using satellite imagery while US and UK agencies were involved in the search.

He had been living the life of a fugitive for many years and supposedly slept in a different rural location every night, but was eventually captured during ‘operation Osiris’ in Colombia’s Uraba region, located in Antioquia province, on October 23.

President Iván Duque described the operation to capture him as "the biggest penetration of the jungle ever seen in the military history of our country".

President Duque hailed Otoniel's capture in a televised video message, when he said: "This is 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."

Although Otoniel is not as well-known outside of Colombia as Pablo Escobar was, he is a household name and had been hugely powerful, especially in the north west of the country.

"In South America, there is no larger cocaine trafficker," says Toby Muse, author of Kilo: Inside the Cocaine Cartels. "We are living in the golden age of cocaine, we are producing more cocaine than ever - that's a fact."

As head of the Gulf Cartel, Otoniel led the country's most powerful criminal organisations that authorities in the US described as "heavily armed and extremely violent".

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Operating in numerous provinces and with extensive international connections, they engaged in drug and people smuggling, illegal gold mining and extortion.

It is believed to have about 1,800 armed members, who are mainly recruited from far-right paramilitary groups. Members have been arrested in Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Peru and Spain.

The gang also controls many of the routes used to smuggle drugs from Colombia to the US, and as far away as Russia.

Usuga is accused of drug trafficking and sending dozens of shipments of cocaine to the United States that amounted to 73 metric tons between 2003-2014.

He has also been behind the killing police officers, with the Defense Ministry pointing the finger at him for the deaths of more than 200 members of the Andean country’s security forces.

He has also been accused of recruiting and sexually abusing children and turned to witchcraft as part of his darker side.

He was described as a “superstitious man” who during his years commanding the criminal group went to witches and fortune-tellers to be prayed for.

In an interview with a local radio station, the director of the National Police pointed out that within the Clan del Golfo, “these leaders and lieutenants of ‘Otoniel resorted to witchcraft, to Santeria. Between that many myths and legends are woven”.

“He (Otoniel) performed rites. All these people performed rituals. A crazy thing, nonsense, ”General Jorge Vargas told the station.

General Vargas pointed out that in the rural areas of Urabá and Chocó there are many supernatural beliefs.

“We have found witchcraft very widespread, everyone uses it. They all call a number of fortune-tellers and prayers. ‘Otoniel’ also used this practice”.

General Vargas revealed that everything was conducted through letters: “Otoniel was doing it from a distance (witchcraft). That is, they sent him letters, they told him to do this rite.

“Things like ‘get up on that side of the bed, when you go to lie down in the hammock you first have to spray it with these waters’

"Things of that nature he did. Similarly, animal sacrifice; we know that a couple of years ago he was doing this," said the director of the National Police.

It is now likely that he will be extradited within a month to face charges in the United States, Colombia’s defense minister said this week. “We expect that the [extradition] process won't take more than 20 days to one month,” Diego Molano Aponte said in an interview.

“The minister of justice in Colombia is working with our prosecutor’s office and the United States in order to proceed as soon as possible.”

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