Colombia’s most-wanted drug lord just sent a message to his old associates from the U.S. prison where he’s currently locked up: Please stop killing police officers.
Dairo Antonio Úsuga, better known as “Otoniel,” sent a letter through his attorney calling for the Gulf Clan, a guerrilla group turned drug cartel, to “cease all the attacks against official forces in Colombia because it is harmful for the society.”
Right after Úsuga’s apprehension in October last year, Gulf Clan members started a series of attacks against policemen in all of the regions under their control, in an attempt to force authorities to release their old boss. As of June, at least 30 police officers have been killed in more than 300 attacks, according to local investigators.
But after two months of being behind bars in a U.S. federal prison, Úsuga, who rose to be the most-wanted drug boss in Colombia, now wants peace.
“This is a call also to the new government to seek a peace agreement, longed by all the Colombians,” he wrote in the letter.
The last time Colombia had a killing spree of its police officers was in 2017, when the Gulf Clan killed around 20 policemen in a similar time frame in another attempt to demand the release of some of its members.
Úsuga’s attorney in the U.S., Alexei Schacht, confirmed the authenticity of the letter and its message, which was delivered to a judge Tuesday. But he couldn’t share any further information as to why his client was calling for peace.
Úsuga was extradited to the U.S. on May 5 to face charges of drug trafficking and money laundering and pleaded not guilty on his first court appearance, according to court documents.
On July 1, Úsuga’s sister, Nini Úsuga, known as “La Negra,” was also extradited from Colombia to the U.S. to face drug trafficking charges.
The huge loads of cocaine Úsuga allegedly smuggled, drew comparisons to popular narco boss Pablo Escobar and the infamous Medellin Cartel.
“The arrest was only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar,” former Colombian President Ivan Duque said at the announcement of his apprehension.
Úsuga’s arrest and extradition, however, has had little effect on his criminal enterprise. The Gulf Clan has increased its presence around Colombia with more than 5,000 members, according to a recent report by the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (PARES).
U.S. authorities believe the group is the Sinaloa Cartel’s main Colombian ally in the drug-trafficking and human-smuggling operations.
During a status hearing for Úsaga Tuesday, his lawyer complained about the “isolation conditions” of his client who says he allegedly hasn’t been able to communicate with his family for more than a month, as required by law.
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.