In late October, Colombian officials arrested Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, also known as “Otoniel,” head of the Gulf Clan. At the time of his arrest, Colombian authorities had been searching for Otoniel, the most wanted man in the country, for more than a decade. Otoniel has been a member of the guerrilla group Popular Liberation Army and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a far-right paramilitary group. He took over the Gulf Cartel in 2009. Upon his arrest, according to the Colombian news outlet La Silla Vacía, Colombian President Iván Duque declared that this was “the most important blow against drug trafficking in Colombia in this century.” However, the outlet notes that it is highly likely that the Gulf Clan will continue to trouble the Colombian government well into the future. Two weeks after the arrest of Otoniel, as if to make the point about perpetual conflict, Spanish-news outlet La Opinión reported the Gulf Clan murdered four Colombian soldiers. The outlet speculates that the arrest of Otoniel has likely precipitated a leadership struggle within the cartel, which could trigger further violence beyond the retaliation phase. The arrest of Otoniel impacts not only Colombia’s peace process but will echo for months, if not years, through Colombia’s criminal landscape.
According to security analysts, law enforcement officials, and leaders in the Gulf Clan’s areas of influence, the capture of
Otoniel is far from putting an end to the Gulf Clan.
Source: “Un Triunfo Histórico para Duque, en una Guerra Sin Fin Con El Clan del Gulfo (A Historic Triumph for Duque, in an Endless War with the Gulf Clan),” La Silla Vacía (a Colombian news website scrutinizing elected officials), 24 October 2021. https://www.lasillavacia.com/historias/silla-nacional/un-triunfo-historico-para-duque-en-una-guerra-sin-fin-con-el-clan-del-golfo/
It is…a huge achievement for the Armed Forces and the Police. They had been jointly seeking to neutralize “Otoniel” for more than 7 years, who had managed to elude them without leaving the country or his area of influence in Urabá. In addition, they achieve it with a capture that, although it has already been announced would end in an extradition to the United States, can provide valuable information about the criminal group. But, according to security analysts, law enforcement officials, and leaders in the Gulf Clan’s areas of influence, the capture of Otoniel is far from putting an end to the Gulf Clan.
Source: “Clan del Golfo asesina a cuatro militares en Colombia, a dos semanas de la captura de “Otoniel”? (Gulf Clan murders four soldiers in Colombia, two weeks after the capture of “Otoniel”),” La Opinión (Spanish-news website headquartered in Los Angeles with reporting from around the region), 7 November 2021. https://laopinion.com/2021/11/07/clan-del-golfo-asesina-a-cuatro-militares-en-colombia-a-dos-semanas-dela-captura-de-otoniel/
With this attack, the interpretation provided by experts on the security issue was confirmed, by ensuring that the arrest of the drug trafficker was far from being the end of the criminal group, since an internal restructuring is looming.