Dairo Antonio Úsuga, known as Otoniel, Colombia’s most wanted drug trafficker and leader of the nation’s largest criminal gang has been captured, according to the BBC.
The leader of the Clan del Golfo was seized in a joint operation between the army, air force and police at his jungle hideout in the north-west of the country on Saturday.
Colombia had offered a reward of around 3bn pesos (approximately $800,000) for information regarding the 50 year-old’s whereabouts, while the US were offering $5m for assistance in locating him.
Colombian President Iván Duque made comparisons between Otoniel’s arrest to the capture of Pablo Escobar three decades ago in a video message televised in the country.
The president also confirmed that a police officer died during the operation.
Otoniel rose to become the leader of the criminal gang Clan del Golfo after its previous leader – his brother – died in a police raid almost a decade ago.
The gang is thought to have around 1,200 armed men – most of them former members of far-right paramilitaries – with presence in almost a third of Colombia’s provinces.
Otoniel faces allegations of sending dozens of shipments of cocaine into the United States, as well as being accused of killing police officers, recruiting minors and sexually abusing children among other suspected crimes.
In the television broadcast, President Duque 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.”
Colombia Risk Analysis director Sergio Guzman said: “It’s a big deal because he’s the biggest drug kingpin in Colombia.
“Otoniel is bound to be replaced.”
Image source: Reuters