NEW YORK (Reuters) -The accused leader of Colombia’s Clan del Golfo drug trafficking group shipped “outrageous quantities of cocaine into the United States,” a top U.S. prosecutor said on Thursday, a day after Dairo Antonio Usuga was extradited from Colombia.
Usuga, known as Otoniel, is expected to be arraigned in federal court in New York City’s Brooklyn borough on Thursday on three charges, including conspiring to manufacture and distribute cocaine, said Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Otoniel is “one of the most dangerous, most wanted drug kingpins in the world” who once had as many as 6,000 “henchmen” under his command, Peace told reporters.
“He earned enormous profits, measured in billions, not millions,” Peace said. “Today he will finally face justice.”
A lawyer for Otoniel declined to comment.
Otoniel was captured by Colombian armed forces last October in the biggest blow to drug trafficking in the Andean country since the death of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in 1993. Otoniel, 50, was extradited to the United States on Wednesday evening.
Under Otoniel’s leadership between 2003 and 2021, the Clan del Golfo orchestrated at least 40 shipments of one ton or more of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico and Central America that was ultimately destined for the United States, Peace said, citing three seizures in 2021 alone that together totaled more than 10 tons of cocaine.
Colombian officials say Otoniel is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of members of Colombia’s security forces.
In an apparent response to the extradition, the Clan del Golfo said it would enforce a curfew in parts of Colombia’s northern Magdalena and Bolivar provinces, warning residents not to open businesses or leave their homes.
Colombian President Ivan Duque on Wednesday said Otoniel’s extradition “shows nobody is above the Colombian state.” Extradition to the United States, Bogota’s top ally, is one of the main weapons in Colombia’s arsenal for fighting drug trafficking.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Additional reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota; Editing by Will Dunham and Leslie Adler)