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US indicts 17 Colombia alleged traffickers

24 June 2015, 16:00

New York - The United States announced on Tuesday it had indicted 17 alleged leaders and associates of Colombia's powerful Clan Usuga drug gang, who would all risk life in prison if ever convicted.

They are charged with criminal enterprise, international cocaine trafficking conspiracy and firearms charges in New York and Miami.

Their alleged crimes took place from 2002 until 2015, in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela and elsewhere, US officials said.

Also Read:Spanish police seize cocaine-stuffed pineapples

Among those indicted is Clan Usuga's leader, Dairo "Otoniel" Usuga. The US government has offered a five million dollar reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction.

Kelly Currie, acting US attorney for the eastern district of New York flew to Bogota to make the announcement with a counterpart from Florida.

Drug taxes

"The indictments announced today are the result of a sweeping national and international effort to stem the flow of drugs across the world and into our communities," Currie said.

Among those indicted are alleged regional commanders accused of collecting drug taxes and managing armed fighters, co-ordinating drug shipments and maintaining control over airstrips and ports on the Colombian coast.

In all, 25 individuals have been charged in the investigations co-ordinated by the US attorneys' offices in Brooklyn and Miami, officials said.

Also Read: Colombian president talks tough amid ceasefire calls

Some of the defendants are already charged elsewhere in the US.

Colombian authorities have said the capture of "Otoniel" would effectively break up the gang, which emerged after 32 000 right-wing paramilitaries were demobilised a decade ago.

That was part of an effort to end a more than 50-year war between the army and leftist guerrillas that has spilled over into paramilitary groups and drug trafficking.



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