Narcotics Kingpin & Gangster Otoniel Pleads Guilty in US, Faces Potential Life Sentence
Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, also known as Otoniel, the leader of the infamous Clan del Golfo group in Colombia, pleaded guilty to multiple charges against him in the United States on Wednesday, including drug trafficking and running an expansive criminal enterprise that distributes cocaine in Colombia.
Otoniel, who was arrested in October 2021 and extradited by Colombia to the US, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, running a criminal enterprise, and manufacturing and distributing cocaine. His charges mean that he will likely receive at least 20 years in prison and potentially a life sentence. United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry also ordered Otoniel to pay $216 million in addition to fines, a DOJ press release reported.
Otoniel’s legal name iss Dairo Antonio Úsuga David
“With today’s guilty plea, the bloody reign of the most violent and significant Colombian narcotics trafficker since Pablo Escobar is over,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “Úsuga David has now been held accountable for his leadership of the Clan del Golfo, which was responsible for trafficking tons of illegal narcotics from Colombia to the United States.”
Otoniel, whose real name is Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, is the leader of the Clan del Golfo (Gulf Clan), a drug trafficking group that is based in Colombia’s Gulf of Urabá on the country’s Caribbean coast that mostly trafficked cocaine for other cartels in Latin America and exported the narcotics the United States, according to El Diario.
Using this vast power over the trade and his base in an area close to the Colombia-Panama border, Otoniel gained control of much of the Urabá region of Antioquia, Colombia. In his plea, he has confessed to trafficking as much as 96,800 kilograms of cocaine through the region.
The Clan del Golfo group is also among the most violent drug traffickers in the world,reportedly having as many as 6,000 members, including an army of hitmen that committed murders, kidnappings, and other illegal activities against their enemies in the region.
His capture in 2021, and the lack of strong leadership to replace him in the Clan del Golfo, has cast doubt over Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s plans for “Total Peace” in the country through negotiations with gangs and other armed groups. Petro’s administration has identified Chiquito Malo as Otoniel’s successor, but attempts to start negotiations with him have been unsuccessful, InSight Crime reported.
Petro’s plans for total peace in Colombia come after decades of conflict between the government, armed paramilitary groups, and rebel groups in the country. His administration is currently negotiating with the National Liberation Army (ELN) towards a peace deal that mirrors the 2016 one with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Colombia’s Truth Commission’s report in June 2022 about potential changes to be made in how the country handles its drug trafficking problem is being seriously considered by Petro’s administration. Some, like a reduction of forced coca plant eradication, is currently being applied to its policy change, al-Jazeera reported.