Colombia: Eight killed in retaliation for cartel extradition to US

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Colombian drug cartel members Clan del Golfo’s attacks in retaliation for the extradition of their leader, Otoniel, to the United States have killed eight people, including civilians, police and the military, Colombian authorities said Monday.

After declaring an “armed strike” in areas of influence last Thursday, members of the Clan del Golfo committed “three civilian homicides”, according to a Defense Ministry press release.

Three soldiers and two policemen were also killed in the gang attacks, according to the army.

The most recent incident was recorded yesterday Monday in the municipality of Santa Fe (Antioch province), where a “humanitarian caravan” with military escort was targeted by a bomb.

“A soldier and a member of the police were killed” and four other members of the security forces were injured, the staff said in a statement.

Dairo Antonio Ushuga David, also known as Otoniel, 50, the leader of the Klan, was extradited last Wednesday from Bogota to New York, where he will be tried mainly for cocaine trafficking and directing a criminal gang from June 2003 to October. 2021 (the date of his arrest), according to Brooklyn District Attorney Brian Pease. He pleaded not guilty at the first hearing.

In retaliation, and in an unprecedented show of force three weeks before the presidential election, members of his gang banned all activities in the areas where they operate, in hundreds of communities in nine of Colombia’s 32 counties, almost all in the north.

Through audio messages they uploaded to social networking sites, they tried to intimidate residents by banning them from traveling and engaging in any activity, threatening to execute them otherwise, according to Sucre Governor Hector Espinosa.

The gunmen, with guns in their hands, set fire to at least 190 vehicles, stopping them by chance on the streets, including major highways a short distance from Medellin, the third largest city in the Andean country.

Because of the Klan’s threat, most rural residents in the worst-hit provinces of Antioch, Choco, Cordoba, Sucre and Bolivar preferred to stay at home.

Yesterday, conservative outgoing President Ivan Duke promised a tougher crackdown on the Clan del Golfo, the gang that is estimated to export 30 to 60 percent of the country’s cocaine, which ranks first in the world in the production of this drug.

“They will see an expansion of (security forces) range that they have never seen before,” Duque said after chairing his government’s security council in Karepa, Antioch (northwest).

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