Alias ’Otoniel’ during his extradition to the United States, on May 4, 2022.COLOMBIA NATIONAL POLICE (Reuters)
The US justice system sentenced Colombian drug lord Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias Otoniel, to 45 years in prison on Tuesday. In January, the former leader of the Clan del Golfo had pleaded guilty to leading a criminal organization for drug trafficking and conspiring to introduce these substances into the United States. The defense has not been successful in its goal of achieving a sentence of less than 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors had claimed in the indictment that Otoniel led “a terrorist and paramilitary organization” for two decades and passed up opportunities to negotiate a demobilization agreement with the Colombian government. “He ordered the murder, kidnapping and torture of his rivals and of individuals he believed were cooperating with the authorities. It is not possible to emphasize enough his desire to have control and take revenge ”, reads one of the briefs that the Prosecutor presented before the Court for the Eastern District of New York. The defense alleged that the former head of the Clan del Golfo grew up in poverty and that he was a victim of forced recruitment as a child. He had also noted the admission of charges against him in January.
Otoniel was captured on the Colombian border with Panama at the end of 2021, during the government of Iván Duque, in an operation applauded by the then Colombian president. He was later extradited, something that caused controversy because he faced 122 criminal proceedings in Colombia, where he already had six convictions. The distance makes it much more difficult for him to contribute to the truth and help repair his victims at home. Precisely, Otoniel’s victims rejected extradition for this reason and even tried to stop her through legal means, which ultimately failed.
The then president responded to those criticisms. “Once he completes his sentence for drug trafficking, he will have to come to Colombia to serve the sentences for the crimes that he has also committed in our country,” Duque said at the time.
One of the opponents of his extradition had been the current president, Gustavo Petro, who had indicated that the former paramilitary chief should appear before the transitional justice system in Colombia. “Duque is afraid of what Otoniel says before the JEP; If not, why doesn’t he extradite him after his confession?” commented in reference to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). Months later, during the electoral campaign, he emphasized that the victims in Colombia “have the right to know the truth.”
One of the judicial conditions for extraditing him to the United States, a country in which he was being prosecuted for drug trafficking, was that he not be sentenced to life imprisonment, something that the Colombian Constitution prohibits. The maximum sentence in the South American country is 50 years.
Analysis of current affairs and the best stories from Colombia, every week in your mailbox
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS newsletter on Colombia and receive all the latest information on the country.
#drug #trafficker #Otoniel #sentenced #United #States #years #prison