Colombia has arrested Autoneil, the biggest drug baron

Colombia has arrested Autoneil, the biggest drug baron
Colombia has arrested Autoneil, the biggest drug baron

“The hardest blow since the capture of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s”: Colombian security forces last night (Sunday) arrested the leader of the country’s most powerful drug cartel, Dairo Antonio Osuga, best known as “Otonail.” Autoneil headed the Del Golfo drug cartel, and was captured in a combined operation by Colombian security forces, in cooperation with hundreds of police and soldiers, in his jungle mansion in the South American country.

O’Neill was arrested after large prizes were offered to him: in Colombia a prize of 3 billion pesos ($ 800,000) was set for any information that would lead to his arrest, while the US set a prize of $ 5 million for similar information. Colombian President Ivan Duke expressed satisfaction with the operation Successful and informed the nation: “This is the hardest blow we have inflicted on the drug trade in the country in the current century. It only equates to the capture and fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s. “

O’Neill’s biography is varied and rich – and while initially a guerrilla fighter for left-wing political organizations, he later became a mercenary in the bloody cartel wars in the country, until in recent years, in his 50s, he became the leader of the Del Golfo drug cartel. most. The dangerous gang has about 1,200 armed soldiers, most of them former right-wing militia fighters, and they are present in at least 10 of Colombia’s 32 counties.

Colombian drug dealer Otniel after his capture | Photo: reuters

Colombian authorities have made it clear that the operation to capture him was carried out with the help of accurate intelligence obtained from the United States and Britain, and in cooperation with more than 500 security personnel – including from the elite units of the local army. Tight security.In recent years, the dangerous drug baron has been on the run, after being defined by the government as a particularly high-profile criminal.It was also reported that at least one police officer was killed during the operation to arrest him.

Osuga and his brother, who was killed in 2012, began their careers as simple fighters in the left-wing political organization “People’s Liberation Army”, as part of the ramified civil war that has been going on in Colombia for the past decades and has only recently come to an end. After a few years, the two changed their positions and abandoned their organization – joining one of his rival organizations from the right side of the political map. In 2006, O’Neill refused to disarm the organization he headed as part of the armistice agreements signed with the government, and instead only deepened its activities and illegal status. His organization was then established as one of the most powerful drug cartels in the country, in the area of ​​the Gulf of Uraba near the border with Panama, which enjoys access to both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Colombian drug dealer Otniel after his capture | Photo: reuters

Over the past few years, O’Neill has reportedly benefited from leaks of information from Colombia’s security authorities as well as an extensive network of hideouts he has managed – which has helped him escape many times from possible seizure. Various sources explain that he has become accustomed to such a standard of living that even during his last moments of experience, Autoneil made sure to sleep on quality orthopedic mattresses designed to relieve back injuries. In 2017, he specifically revealed his face in a special video he posted ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia, announcing that he seeks to disarm his organization, as part of the ceasefire agreements signed by the government with the “Park” movement – a demand that never materialized.

The capture of Autoneil is a refreshing breeze in the sails of President Duke who is trying to present a rigid and aggressive line against the country’s drug cartels. Duka suffers from severe difficulties in his rule, and in May, it will be recalled, there were severe and violent protests against him across the country – during which dozens of people were killed, ostensibly in light of his intention to pass a new tax reform. Meanwhile, experts warn that the capture of Usuga is important, but in a short time another leader of a cartel will emerge who will fill the void left by O’Neill and take control of the violent drug trade. “This is a big event because he was the biggest and most important drug baron in Colombia,” explained researcher Sergio Guzman, “but there is no doubt that he will be replaced soon.” It is estimated that cocaine growth in Colombia has grown by only 16% in the last year alone, and is now spread over a huge area of ​​about 245,000 hectares.

In 2016, Colombian authorities launched Operation Agamemnon to wage a strenuous war on drug cartels, killing dozens of O’Neill’s men. Last March, his sister, Nini Johanna Osuga, was arrested in a combined operation by the Colombian police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Usuga was immediately extradited to the United States, where she was charged with drug trafficking and money laundering and is facing a lengthy prison sentence. Her brother, Dairo Antonio Osuga, is now facing a similar fate.

 
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