HomeNewsAnalysisUrabeños Leadership Under Mounting Pressure in Colombia
ANALYSIS

Urabeños Leadership Under Mounting Pressure in Colombia

COLOMBIA / 30 AUG 2019 BY JUAN CAMILO JARAMILLO EN

Authorities in Colombia continue to home in on the Urabeños crime group, arresting the brother of boss Dairo Antonio Úsuga.

On August 22, Colombia's President Iván Duque announced the capture of Carlos Mario Úsuga David, alias “Cuarentano,” who is said to be the chief financial operative for the group. He is also the brother of Antonio Úsuga, alias "Otoniel," one of Colombia's most wanted men.

Úsuga David was arrested by police in the city of Montería, the capital of northwest Córdoba department, after a months-long hunt that had mostly focused on the Bajo Cauca region of Antioquia, the group's base of operations.

SEE ALSO: Urabeños News and Profile

Otoniel had reportedly named his brother to lead the group's finances after the arrest of their former financial operative, Nini Johana Úsuga, alias "La Negra," in December 2013.

"Cuarentano collected the money from illegal mining, extortion and handled all the finances of drug trafficking to Central America and Europe," said Colombia's police director, Óscar Atehortúa Duque.

The evidence collected by authorities indicates that Úsuga David operated across the departments of Chocó, Antioquia, Córdoba, Bolívar, Sucre, Atlántico and Magdalena, from where he coordinated the flow of drugs out of Colombia to international markets.

InSight Crime Analysis

Úsuga David's capture has dealt another critical blow to the Urabeños' top leadership and is likely to weaken his brother's ability to operate, especially at a time of increasing government efforts to dismantle his organization.

Antonio Úsuga's closest circle of advisers is mostly made up of family members, and Úsuga David is the third of his brothers to fall in the last year. In August 2018, two other brothers who held top positions within the Urabeños were captured, Eusebio Úsuga David, alias "Chengo," and Fernando Umbeiro Úsuga, alias “Palillo." Nini Johana Úsuga, Cuarentano and Otoniel's sister, has also been jailed since 2013.

In less than six years, Otoniel has seen at least 16 relatives captured, usually in joint police and military operations.

These unified efforts are the result of Operation Agamemnon, launched by police in February 2015 to dismantle the support structure around Otoniel. Its success was such that Agamemnon II began in June 2017, this time with extra backing from the army.

SEE ALSO: Colombia’s Largest-Ever Manhunt Hasn’t Caught Its Top Target. Here’s Why.

But while the operations have neutralized many key Urabeños leaders, Otoniel has remained at large.

Otoniel is wanted by Interpol, while Colombian officials have put a $1 million bounty on him. Reports of his whereabouts have surfaced over the years but intelligence sources say that he may now be hiding in the Paramillo Knot, a mountainous jungle region in Antioquia department.

Duque's government has shown no signs of wanting to dialogue with Otoniel, as had been contemplated during the previous administration of Juan Manuel Santos. The strengthening of Operation Agamemnon II and the launch of a new task force, called Achilles, in Antioquia are clear signals of the confrontational strategy that Duque intends to follow.

Such measures are likely to reduce Otoniel's room to maneuver. Still, the Urabeños remain among the largest criminal groups in Colombia with around 1,500 armed men, and are experienced in replacing leaders.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 8 APR 2014

The government in Colombia is to strengthen customs controls on its borders in an attempt to tackle widespread contraband smuggling…

COLOMBIA / 27 MAR 2013

Authorities captured an alleged link between Colombia trafficking organization the Rastrojos and Mexico drug cartels in Panama. The suspect had…

COLOMBIA / 19 AUG 2019

A new report by Human Rights Watch on violence in the department of Norte de Santander, Colombia, shows how vulnerable…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…