Colombian drug lord 'Otoniel' pleads not guilty in US court

·1-min read
A picture of Colombian drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, aka Otoniel, is displayed on a screed as Eastern District of New York Attorney Breon Peace (out of frame) speaks during a press conference in New York City on May 5, 2022 (AFP/Kena Betancur) (Kena Betancur)

One of Colombia's most notorious drug lords pleaded not guilty to trafficking charges in a New York court Thursday following his extradition to the United States.

Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as "Otoniel," did not ask for bail during the arraignment in Brooklyn.

The 50-year-old Usuga was the leader of Colombia's largest narco-trafficking gang, known as the Gulf Clan.

The United States accuses Usuga and the Gulf Clan of illegally bringing at least 73 tons of cocaine into the country between 2003 and 2012.

He was the most-wanted person in Colombia until he was arrested last October in the northwest of the country after a massive military operation.

On Wednesday afternoon, a convoy of five bulletproof police vehicles transported him from a prison in the capital Bogota to a military airport, where he was handed over to US Drug Enforcement Administration officials.

He landed in New York around 11:30 PM (0330 GMT Thursday).

Usuga wore orange prison garb and was handcuffed during his first appearance in the Brooklyn federal court.

He has been charged with criminal enterprise and international cocaine manufacturing and distribution.

Usuga asked to be held in detention until his trial and judge Vera Scanlon set a date of June 2 for the defendant's next court appearance.

af-pdh/caw

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting