San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Drug trafficking

US indicts 17 alleged drug traffickers from Colombia, with ties to Costa Rica

NEW YORK – The United States announced 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, U.S. officials said.

Among those indicted is Clan Usuga’s leader, Dairo “Otoniel” Usuga. The U.S. government has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction.

Kelly Currie, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, flew to Bogotá to make the announcement with a counterpart from Florida.

“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.

Along with Currie making the announcement were U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida and Regional Director Jay Bergman of the Andean Region of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Among those indicted are alleged regional commanders accused of collecting drug taxes and managing armed fighters, coordinating drug shipments and maintaining control over airstrips and ports on the Colombian coast.

In all, 25 individuals have been charged in the investigations coordinated by the U.S. attorneys’ offices in Brooklyn and Miami, officials said.

Some of the defendants are already charged elsewhere in the U.S.

Colombian authorities have said the capture of “Otoniel” would effectively break up the gang, which emerged after 32,000 right-wing paramilitaries were demobilized 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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