Notorious Colombian cocaine trafficker Dairo Antonio Úsuga, also known as Otoniel, has pleaded guilty to drugs charges in a US court.
Otoniel was the leader of Colombia’s most powerful criminal gang for more than nine years.
He was arrested in his Colombia hideout in October 2021 and extradited to the US last year, where there was a bounty for information leading to his capture.
The 51-year-old agreed to hand over $216m (£173m) in drug proceeds.
On Wednesday, Otoniel pleaded guilty to “running a continuing criminal enterprise” as well as to drug smuggling and distribution charges.
He now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and up to life in prison.
One of the prosecutors described Otoniel as “the most significant Colombian narcotics trafficker since [the leader of the Medellín cartel] Pablo Escobar”.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration said he was “one of the most violent and prolific drug traffickers in the world”.
The United States had offered a bounty of $5m (£4m) for help finding him.
Colombian security forces had tried for years to capture him and were finally successful in October 2021, when hundreds of police and soldiers tracked him down to a safe house in a rural part of Colombia’s Antioquia province.
Otoniel had used a network of rural safe houses to move around and evade the authorities, and did not use a phone, instead relying on couriers for communication.
He became the leader of the Gulf Clan after its previous boss – Otoniel’s brother Juan de Dios Úsuga – was killed by police in a raid during a New Year’s Eve party in 2012.
The gang, which operates in many provinces and has extensive international connections, is engaged in drug and people smuggling, illegal gold mining and extortion.
It controls many of the routes used to smuggle drugs from Colombia to the US, and as far away as Russia.
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