The United States has indicted 17 top members of Colombia’s most powerful neo-paramilitary drug trafficking organization, the “Urabeños,” and will grant a $5 million reward for its boss, “Otoniel,” both the US and Colombian government announced Tuesday.
At a press conference at the presidential palace in Bogota, President Juan Manuel Santos announced that Otoniel, who’s been the target of an intense yet fruitless manhunt for months, now faces a $5 million reward.
Santos was accompanied by US Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida and Acting US Attorney Kelly P. Currie of the Eastern District of New York.
Both the US Federal Court in Brooklyn, NY, and the one in Miami, FL indicted “Otoniel,” and the alleged founder of the group, the incarcerated “Don Mario.”
Other alleged senior members of Colombia’s most feared neo-paramilitary group were charged either in both or in one of the courts.
“These indictments represent the United States’ steadfast bilateral commitment to conclusively dismantle what is the largest and arguably the last of the nationally structured criminal bands in Colombia,” said DEA Regional Director Jay Bergman.
- Dairo Antonio Usuga-David aka “Otoniel,” “Mao,” “Gallo,” and “Mauricio-Gallo”
- Roberto Vargas Gutierrez aka “Gavilan”
- Carlos Alberto Moreno Turberquia aka “Nicolas”
- Aristides Manuel Mesa Paez aka “El Indio”
- Cesar Daniel Anaya Martinez aka “Tierra”
- Ramiro Caro Pineda aka “Nolasco” and “Hugo”
- Luis Orlando Padierna Pena aka “Inglaterra”
- Jobanis de Jesus Avila Villadiego aka “Chiquito” and “Chiquito Malo”
- Jhoni Alberto Grajales aka “Guajiro” Orlando Gutierrez-Rendon aka “Negro Orlando”
- Gustavo Palomino Araujo aka “Camilo”
- Eduard Fernando Cardoza-Giraldo aka “Boliqueso”
- Jairo De Jesus Durango Restrepo aka “Gua Gua”
- Alverio Feo Alvarado aka “Benevides”
- Oscar David Pulgarin-Ganan aka “Nino” and “Coroso”
- Eduardo Luis Vargas Gutierrez aka “Pipon”
- Victor Alfonso Mosquera Perez aka “Negro”
- Andres Fernandez Perez-Restrepo aka “Anthrax”
Santos, who had already announced a major manhunt in March, said that he would continue to persecute the group and its leader.
The “Urabeños,” or “Clan Usuga,” surged from paramilitary umbrella organization AUC between 2003 and 2006 when the group demobilized.
Members who refused to demobilize or later rejoined their old fighting companions former a number of groups that took over the AUC’s unattended businesses in narcotics trafficking and extortion.
While also combating leftist guerrilla groups, Colombian authorities failed to prevent the surge of the Urabeños, whose military force is thought to have exceeded that of the ELN, Colombia’s second largest rebel group.
Because of its roots in the paramilitary AUC, that was frequently operating in conjunction with the Colombian military, the group has remained its elusiveness for authorities as it is able to coerce officials into cooperation and prevent locals from cooperating with the authorities.
EE.UU abre acusaciones formales en contra de 17 miembros del ‘Clan Úsuga’ (President’s Office)
Seventeen Alleged Leaders and Associates of Clan Usuga Indicted in Brooklyn and Miami (US Justice Department)