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Accused Colombian Drug Trafficker Arraigned in New York City

A Colombian drug-trafficking kingpin was arraigned in New York on federal charges of overseeing multi-ton shipments of cocaine imported into the U.S. and ordering the killings and kidnappings of rivals and law-enforcement officers, the Wall Street Journal reports. Prosecutors accused Dairo Antonio Úsuga of being the former leader of the Gulf Clan, the largest and most powerful cocaine-trafficking organization in Colombia. Usuga, known by the alias Otoniel, was captured last year after years of being one a most wanted fugitive. A federal judge ordered him held without bail after a prosecutor said he oversaw an organization that terrorized and subjugated people living in a region in northwest Colombia.

In Colombia, President Iván Duque said Usuga "was a criminal who thought he could outwit justice, who thought he could taunt our country and escape extradition. He now has the jail cell he deserves.” The extradition of Úsuga led to violence in the northern state of Antioquia, where groups thought to be tied to the Gulf Clan burned vehicles and posted pamphlets threatening residents. Duque’s decision to decision to allow Usuga's extradition was controversial in Colombia because a special tribunal trying to unravel the crimes of former guerrillas, death squad leaders, former army officers, businessmen and politicians had been counting on testimony from the Gulf Clan leader.

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