APARTADO, Colombia – Police in northwestern Colombia embarked Wednesday on a renewed push to smash the Andean nation’s most powerful criminal organization, the Clan del Golfo.
The head of the National Police narcotics division, Gen. Jose Angel Mendoza Guzman, said that the US and Colombian governments are together offering more than $6 million in rewards for information leading to the capture of the gang’s reputed boss, Dairo Antonio Usuga David, alias “Otoniel,” who is blamed for the deaths of a dozen police officers.
Bogota has also posted a reward of a little more than $1 million for another Clan capo, Roberto Vargas Gutierrez, known as “Gavilan.”
The Clan del Golfo “is in its death throes, it is cornered,” Mendoza told reporters who accompanied him aboard a helicopter dropping reward-flyers over villages in the banana-growing region of Uraba.
The gang, previously known as Clan Usuga or Los Urabeños, originated among former right-wing paramilitaries after the demobilization of the AUC militia federation in 2006.
At this point, according to Mendoza, the leaders of the various factions of the Clan del Golfo are isolated from each other and no longer able to coordinate activities across the organization.
Besides chasing down the Clan’s bosses, police are working to destroy the drug crops that represent the basis of the gang’s wealth, the general said.
Police have eradicated 15,300 hectares (38,000 acres) of coca – the raw material of cocaine – in Uraba so far this year, as much as during all of 2016, Mendoza said.