US sentences former Gulf Clan leader ‘Otoniel’ to 45 years in prison

US sentences former Gulf Clan leader ‘Otoniel’ to 45 years in prison

Dairo Antonio Usuga David found guilty of running paramilitary group that sent 96.8 tons of cocaine to US

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Colombian Dairo Antonio Usuga David, aka "Otoniel," regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous drug lords, was sentenced Tuesday in New York to 45 years in prison for drug trafficking.

Judge Dora Irizarry of the Eastern District Court in Brooklyn imposed the sentence after saying that this is "without a doubt one of the most serious cases in terms of drug trafficking activity" that the court has ever prosecuted.

The former Gulf Clan leader pleaded guilty to shipping at least 96.8 tons of cocaine to the US. Prosecutors said that Otoniel "ordered the murder, kidnapping and torture of his rivals and of individuals he believed were cooperating with the authorities."

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Department of Justice will find “the leaders of deadly drug trafficking organizations that cause harm to the American people, no matter where they are and no matter how long it takes."

Otoniel expressed his desire to return to Colombia and cooperate with the justice system.

"I accept responsibility for the crimes committed. I apologize to the families of the victims and to the governments of Colombia and the United States for the damage caused. I hope to return to Colombia after serving my sentence," he said.

Otoniel was Colombia’s most wanted drug lord before he was captured in October 2021. He had 128 arrest warrants in the country for crimes such as drug trafficking, extortion, homicide, forced displacement, arms trafficking, forming armed groups, conspiracy to commit crimes and crimes against humanity as well as seven convictions.

“As a candidate, I pledged to capture and extradite this criminal of the worst kind, and we fulfilled our commitment to Colombia,” said former Colombian President Ivan Duque.

Otoniel’s extradition to the US was carried out after the Colombian State Council lifted a measure that was preventing him from leaving at the request of the victims’ families.

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