Alias Otoniel, the most wanted man in Colombia, was extradited to the United States. There is a new capo in North American prisons, but cocaine production continues unabated.
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
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Darío Antonio Úsuga, alias “Otoniel”, is the most recent Colombian capo extradited to the United States, but the business continues and despite big names in prison, cocaine production is growing in Colombia.
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A few days ago, the most relevant news in Colombia and the United States was the extradition of alias Otoniel, the leader of the Clan del Golfo cartel, one of the most powerful narcos in Colombia.
However, the capture of alias Otoniel is not the first nor the most important in Colombian history. Heads like Pablo Escobar (Medellín cartel), Gilberto and Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela (Cali cartel), alias Chupeta, alias Don Berna, (among others) swell the list of capos extradited or discharged, but the problem of drugs in Colombia continues.
This would suggest that even though the authorities cut off the heads of the monster called drug trafficking, it looks like a Lernaean Hydra. This Greek mythological monster that, according to legend, grows two heads after one is cut off.
These have been the mafia bosses in Colombia who have been discharged or captured and subsequently extradited to the United States:
Possibly the most famous drug dealer in history. Pablo Escobar was the head of the Medellin cartel, at the time, the most powerful cartel in Colombia and the world. He was considered one of the richest men on the planet. He was discharged by the Colombian authorities on December 5, 1993, and at the time, many thought that drug trafficking in Colombia would be a thing of the past. Alias el Patron had a fortune of 3,500 million dollars.
The Rodriguez Orejuela brothers
Miguel and Gilberto were the bosses of the Cali Cartel. Before the fall of Escobar, the cartel of the capital of Valle del Cauca took over the cocaine trade in the Andean country. Both were captured and extradited to the United States. The brothers seized a fortune close to 2,000 million dollars in goods, shares and money.
Alias Don Berna
Diego Fernando Murillo, better known as the fearsome "Don Berna", was a drug trafficker and leader of the Oficina de Envigado group, heir to the Medellín Cartel of the feared Pablo Escobar. He was the first capo to fully join his monetary power and the formation of a paramilitary group in Colombia. He was captured and later extradited to the United States in 2008 .
Another great Colombian capo. Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía was captured in 2007 in Brazil, despite the fact that he had received aesthetic plastic surgery operations so as not to be recognized by the authorities. He belonged to the Norte del Valle Cartel and is serving a sentence in US prisons for crimes related to drug trafficking. The Colombian authorities have recovered from him a fortune close to 100 million dollars.
Wilber Varela was one of the leaders of the Norte del Valle Cartel. Later, he created a private army that today is known as the Rasrtojos, a paramilitary group with a presence in Colombian territory. He was assassinated in Venezuela, where he was hiding from the authorities.
Also known as "El Loco Barrera". One of the most powerful capos in western Colombia. He led what was known as the Popular Anti-subversive Revolutionary Army of Colombia (Erpac), a recreation of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). He was captured in 2012 by the Venezuelan authorities and sent to Colombia and later the United States, where he is currently serving his sentence for drug trafficking.
Daniel Rendón was the predecessor of the one we know today as "Otoniel". He was the leader of the paramilitary groups that function as drug cartels such as the Clan del Golfo or the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces. He took over the drug corridors left by the AUC and became the strongman of the Colombian northeast, an area of high drug activity and transportation. Likewise, he was a fundamental partner of the Mexican cartels until 2009 when he was captured by the Colombian authorities and extradited to the United States.
Fewer capos captured but more cocaine production.
Ironically, despite all these heavy blows to criminal organizations and drug cartels, cocaine production remains the same or higher than before. Although they have also reduced coca crops, never before has Colombia produced as much cocaine as in recent times.
According to a 2021 White House report, Colombia increased by 15% in crops for illicit use and potential production for cocaine. The pandemic, the ban on aerial spraying and a misguided approach are believed to be the main causes.
The violence continues and the State seems to be losing the battle.
In retaliation for the extradition of their former boss, the Clan del Golfo ordered an armed strike in all the areas where they are present. This meant a halt in any type of activity or mobility of civilians within 11 of the 37 departments in the Andean country, according to an investigation by the Investigation and Accusation Unit (UIA) of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) .
The lack of operations of the Colombian authorities not only left 178 municipalities locked up, but also 24 civilians were killed, 2 members of the public force and 26 roads blocked. Although the official figures give 3 people dead (3 civilians, 1 policeman and 2 soldiers).