Colombian Cartel Leader Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison in U.S. 

Dairo Antonio Usuga David, known as Otoniel

By Steve Neavling

Notorious Colombian drug trafficker Dairo Antonio Usuga David, known as Otoniel, was sentenced Tuesday to 45 years in prison in the U.S. 

“Otoniel led one of the largest cocaine trafficking organizations in the world, where he directed the exportation of massive amounts of cocaine to the United States and ordered the ruthless execution of Colombian law enforcement, military officials, and civilians,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a news release.  “This sentence sends a clear message: the Justice Department will find and hold accountable the leaders of deadly drug trafficking organizations that harm the American people, no matter where they are and no matter how long it takes.” 

In January, the 51-year-old pleaded guilty to charges of drug distribution and running a criminal enterprise in federal court in Brooklyn. 

A judge also ordered Otoniel to pay $216 million in forfeiture. 

Otoniel was the leader of a “multibillion-dollar paramilitary and drug trafficking organization” known as the “Clan del Golfo,” the Justice Department said. 

CDG is considered one of the most violent and powerful criminal organizations in Colombia and is a major supplier of cocaine. The organization has as many as 6,000 members and uses military tactics control vast amounts of territory in Antioquia, Colombia. 

“The human misery caused by the defendant’s incredibly violent, vengeful, and bloody reign as leader of the Clan de Golfo drug trafficking organization may never be fully calculated due to its magnitude, but today’s lengthy sentence delivers appropriate justice and sends a message to other paramilitary and cartel leaders that the United States will seek their arrest and extradition in order to hold them accountable in our courts of law,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. 

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