Colombia’s hunt for elusive drug lord Otoniel

Undated picture of a hut used as a hide-out by Dairo Antonio Usuga David Symbol copyright Semana Image caption Police found luxurious pieces within the huts used as a cover-out by the leader of the Usuga clan, Dairo Antonio Usuga

Widescreen TELEVISION sets attached to satellite tv for pc dishes, dear drinks and perfumes – these are only a few of the luxurious items Colombian police have present in huts in the in a different way terrible rural area of Uraba, in western Colombia.

The huts, and the luxury items inside of, belong to Dairo Antonio Usuga David, higher known as Otoniel, one in all essentially the most wanted men in Colombia.

Lately a few 1,2 HUNDRED individuals of the safety forces are chasing the elusive gang leader.

That is greater than double the 500 who hunted Pablo Escobar, the drug lord who managed the infamous cocaine cartel of the similar identify.

Crime syndicate

Otoniel runs the Usuga extended family, a drug gang that has its powerbase in the Uraba region of Colombia, however whose community extends across the country and beyond.

Image copyright Colombian police Symbol caption Otoniel has been eluding police capture

Members of the gang were arrested as far away as Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Peru and Spain.

The US Department of State describes it as a “closely armed, extraordinarily violent felony organization”.

it’s offering as much as $5m (£3.4m) for information leading to Otoniel’s arrest.

Otoniel has been to blame for the reason that his brother, Juan de Dios, used to be killed on 1 January 2012 while police raided his New Year’s Eve party.

Family ties

The gang is first and best engaged in drug trafficking, nevertheless it has additionally been accused of extortion, unlawful mining, compelled disappearances and homicide.

it’s a great deal a circle of relatives industry.

Otoniel’s spouse, Blanca Senobia Madrid Benjumea, was accountable of the group’s funds until her seize last month.

Symbol copyright Colombian police Image caption Blanca Senobia Madrid Benjumea was captured in February

His nephew, Harlison Usuga, sorted the drug traffic routes north to Crucial The Usa and liaised with Mexican drug cartels until he, too, used to be captured in February.

Over the past five years, the safety forces have captured a whopping 6,700 members of the group.

However its leader has avoided them so far.

Final month, they launched an important and dear operation to trap the elusive gang chief.

Assets associated with the operation say $225,000 was spent on monitoring down Otoniel within the first 25 days of the hunt.

the people tasked with arresting him had been given clear orders from President Juan Manuel Santos and Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon: Don’t leave Uraba till you have got caught Otoniel and feature dismantled the entire extended family.

So a ways, the security forces have seized 5.5 tonnes of cocaine, and destroyed a bunch of coca plants and laboratories that turn leaves into cocaine.

However they’ve but to search out Otoniel.

Local knowledge

His uncanny ability to stay clear of the safety forces is in part because of his circle of relatives’s shut ties to the area.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Colombian safety forces have deployed Black Hawk helicopters for the hunt

Otoniel was once born in Uraba and knows the area just like the back of his hand.

most significantly, via threats and intimidation he has received nearly overall control over the local community.

While he called on locals to down tools to mark his brother’s loss of life at the hand of the police, the area came to a standstill for a couple of days.

Whilst other folks in the area pay attention Otoniel’s identify discussed, they react with concern.

it’s exhausting for the security forces to gain folks’s consider right here, and it’s one thing they have got no longer yet fully controlled.

Evasive tips

Moreover, Otoniel makes use of a wide range of tricks to prevent the police.

He has skilled dogs to alert him to any individual approaching his conceal-outs.

Police just lately managed to seize one of his protect dogs and have educated him to move after Otoniel’s.

Oto, as police have known as the poacher turned hunter, is definitely conversant in his former grasp’s smell and is regarded as a superb addition to the workforce tracking him down.

Image copyright Semana Image caption Police wish Oto can help them observe down his former master Image copyright Semana Image caption Otoniel uses orthopaedic mattresses because a herniated disk provides him again pain

The police have come just about Otoniel several occasions, finding in a number of cover-outs the unique orthopaedic mattresses he uses to ease again pain from a herniated disk.

They hope their search will soon yield effects and that they’ll have the ability to send Otoniel to the confines of a top-safety jail the place he is not going to experience such comforts.

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