Colombia’s most-wanted drug trafficker and the leader of the country’s largest criminal gang has been captured.
Dairo Antonio Úsuga, better known as Otoniel, was seized after a joint operation by the army, air force and police on Saturday.
The government had offered a $800,000 (£582,000) reward for information about his whereabouts, while the US placed a $5m bounty on his head.
President Iván Duque hailed Otoniel’s capture in a televised video message.
“This is the biggest blow against drug trafficking in our country this century,” he said. “This blow is only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s.”
Otoniel was captured in his rural hideout in Antioquia province in north-western Colombia, close to the border with Panama. While details of the operation are still emerging, the president said one police officer had been killed.
The gang controls many of the routes used to smuggle drugs from Colombia to the US and as far away as Russia.
The Colombian government, however, believes it has decimated its numbers in recent years, forcing many leading members to hide in remote regions in the jungle.
Otoniel now faces a number of charges including sending shipments of cocaine to the US, killing police officers and recruiting children.
He was indicted in the US in 2009, and faces extradition proceedings which could see him eventually appear in court in New York.
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