Colombian Cartel Leader Extradited to Face Drug Charges in New York

A man accused of leading a notorious Colombian drug cartel was extradited to the United States on Wednesday to face federal drug trafficking charges in New York, according to federal officials in Brooklyn.

Dairo Antonio Úsuga, more commonly known as Otoniel, was arrested in October after Colombian officials called him the world’s most feared trafficker. He has been accused of carrying out assassinations of police officers and civic leaders and of smuggling large quantities of cocaine into the United States.

Mr. Úsuga, 50, is the leader of the Clan del Golfo, a Colombian drug cartel that uses violence and intimidation to control drug-trafficking routes through Mexico and to expand its territory, according to federal officials in New York.

He is expected to face a host of charges, including international cocaine distribution and conspiring to kill rival drug traffickers. Breon S. Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Colombia’s military and police arrested Mr. Úsuga last year after pursuing him for about a decade. He faced more than 120 warrants for crimes including drug trafficking, murder, kidnapping and money laundering, according to the Colombian attorney general’s office.

More than 1,200 officers were involved in the hunt by 2015, according to the BBC, and five federal indictments across New York and in Miami were unsealed the same year against him and 16 other accused high-ranking members of Clan del Golfo.

The U.S. State Department has described the cartel as “heavily armed and extremely violent,” consisting of “former members of terrorist organizations that did not demobilize” after a 2016 peace accord ended a half-century of deadly conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a guerrilla group. The department had offered up to $5 million for information leading to Mr. Úsuga’s capture or conviction.

The cartel he leads has also been known to view migrants in parts of Colombia’s countryside as it does drugs — as goods to tax and control. And Mr. Úsuga has also been accused of recruiting minors and sexually abusing women and girls.

Some of Mr. Úsuga’s accusers had sought to block his extradition in hopes of receiving answers and holding him accountable for local charges. The Colombian Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, denied the request.

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