The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami and the Colombian government in Bogotá on Tuesday jointly announced the indictments and arrests of 17 members of a major Colombian drug-trafficking organization known as the Clan Úsuga.
At least 12 individuals are now in custody in Miami, Colombia and Spain — but some others are still at large, according to U.S. officials. Among those still at large, though indicted, is clan leader Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, for whom the State Department has offered a $5 million reward.
The joint Colombia-U.S. announcement marked an intensification of the effort to target the so-called Colombian criminal bands that continue to produce and deliver loads of cocaine and other drugs on a global scale, including to the profitable markets of the United States and Europe. It also marked a follow-up to an effort begun in 2011, the year the U.S. Attorney in Miami, Wifredo Ferrer, traveled to Bogotá and met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Before Ferrer’s trip, he announced the creation of the so-called BACRIM prosecution unit. The name derives from the Spanish term for the criminal gangs, Bandas Criminales.
“My goal has always been to go after the Bacrim,” Ferrer said in a telephone interview from Bogotá. “The goal is to dismantle these criminal organizations and to eliminate the security threat that these groups pose to our region and the international community.”
Never miss a local story.
The Clan Úsuga, as the group is known in Colombia, is considered to be the largest, most dangerous and better structured narco-trafficking organization in that country. Like other Colombian gangs, the Clan Úsuga is known to send drugs to Mexican cartels for re-export to the United States. After the announcement in Bogotá, Ferrer’s office in Miami and the acting U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, Kelly T. Currie, said in a statement that 17 alleged leaders and associates of Clan Úsuga had been indicted in Miami and Brooklyn as part of a “coordinated strike against Colombia’s largest and most influential drug-trafficking and armed BACRIM criminal groups.”
Currie, for his part, said the indictments were part of an international effort to stamp out criminal gangs.
"The indictments... 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 in the statement. “We stand united with our partners in Colombia in our unwavering commitment to root out the leaders of drug trafficking criminal enterprises wherever they may be found.”
Follow Alfonso Chardy on Twitter @AlfonsoChardy