Colombia court suspends extradition of accused trafficker Otoniel


BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s top administrative court on Friday suspended the extradition to the United States of accused drug trafficker Dairo Antonio Usaga, known as Otoniel, until legal action by victims of the country’s conflict can be resolved.

Otoniel, leader of the Clan del Golfo crime gang, was detained last October in Antioquia province. He is wanted in the United States for crimes including drug trafficking, conspiracy and illegally possessing weapons.

His lawyers had argued against his extradition, saying he should be allowed to testify before the country’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal to confess his role in Colombia’s nearly six decades of conflict and reveal links between the military and illegal armed groups.

A group of victims agreed and carried out a legal action to block the extradition, which was backed by the Council of State.

“After accepting the study of the suit, the suspension of the extradition is ordered,” the Council said in a statement.

Extradition to its top ally is one of the main weapons in the Andean country’s arsenal for fighting drug trafficking, as well as one of the outcomes most feared by drug traffickers.

(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Chang)

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