Who is Dairo Úsuga? The leader of the Colombian 'Gulf Clan' cartel is considered the most significant kingpin arrest since Pablo Escobar

who is dairo úsuga? the leader of the colombian 'gulf clan' cartel is considered the most significant kingpin arrest since pablo escobar
© Oficina de Prensa de la Presidencia de Colombia via AP Dairo Antonio Úsuga is apprehended by Colombia soldiers on May 4, 2021 as he is brought to a military airfield in Bogota ahead of his extradition to the US on drug trafficking charges. Oficina de Prensa de la Presidencia de Colombia via AP

  • Dairo Úsuga is one of the most important Colombian drug kingpins since Pablo Escobar.
  • He was extradited to the US over the weekend and faces multiple felony drug trafficking charges.
  • Insider explains why Colombia’s president said he is “comparable only to Pablo Escobar.”

Who is Dairo Úsuga? The leader of the Colombian 'Gulf Clan' cartel is considered the most significant kingpin arrest since Pablo Escobar
1/7 SLIDES © Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images; Scott Olson/Getty Images; Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

2022 is shaping up to be a legal nightmare for Trumpworld. Here’s a timeline of upcoming court cases and legal obstacles.

Donald Trump and his allies are facing a flurry of legal challenges this year. Investigations into his company’s finances are ongoing, along with others related to January 6. Here are the dates to watch out for this year.

Former President Donald Trump has had a number of surprising legal victories ever since he left the White House — though his greatest potential battles are still looming.

In November, Summer Zervos, who had accused Trump of sexual assault following her appearance on “The Apprentice,” dropped her lawsuit against him before he was forced to sit for a deposition. At around the same time, a New York state judge dismissed a lawsuit from Michael Cohen seeking to have the Trump Organization reimburse his legal fees for work he did on Trump’s behalf.

But greater dangers loom. The Trump Organization is the subject of a sprawling investigation from the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the New York attorney general’s office into alleged financial misconduct.

In Atlanta, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is weighing charges over his conduct in the 2020 election. Those investigations are proceeding as the Justice Department comes up on the five-year deadline to prosecute Trump over acts of possible obstruction that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller III scrutinized as part of his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is sending a steady stream of Trump’s White House records to the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. And Trump — along with many of his allies — face federal investigations and lawsuits stemming from the January 6 insurrection. Expect the judges in those cases to set court dates later this year.

While Trump mulls whether to run for president again in 2024, 2022 is shaping up to be a year of legal headaches for the former president and his associates. Here’s a timeline of the threats Trumpworld faces.

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Who is Dairo Úsuga? The leader of the Colombian 'Gulf Clan' cartel is considered the most significant kingpin arrest since Pablo Escobar
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April

April 15 — The Trump Organization is required to meet this deadline to hand over a batch of outstanding discovery documents to the New York Attorney General’s office for its investigation into potential financial misconduct.

April 20 — For the same case brought by the New York Attorney General’s office, the Trump Organization needs to give the judge a progress report on how it’s complying with subpoenas for other documents.

April 25 — Judge Arthur Engoron, who’s overseeing the subpoena case between the New York Attorney General’s office and Trump’s company, is scheduled to hold a hearing to make sure all his orders have been complied with.

Who is Dairo Úsuga? The leader of the Colombian 'Gulf Clan' cartel is considered the most significant kingpin arrest since Pablo Escobar
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May

May 2 — Jury selection is scheduled to begin in a trial regarding a civil lawsuit brought by a group of protesters against the Trump Organization. The protesters sued in 2015, alleging the company’s security guards roughed them up during a demonstration outside Trump Tower. A video of a deposition Trump was forced to take this past fall is expected to be shown at the trial as evidence.

May 2 — A special grand jury for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation into Trump will be empaneled on May 2 and continue for up to 12 months. This announcement on Monday comes after Willis formally requested to have a special grand jury that would give her the subpoena power to obtain documents and compel witnesses to testify.

May 6 — Federal prosecutors need to meet this deadline to respond to Stephen Bannon’s motion to dismiss the charges against him for refusing to comply with subpoenas from the House of Representatives January 6 Committee. After allowing Bannon to respond, the judge is expected to rule whether the charges can stick and when to set a trial.

May 10 — Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is scheduled to give a deposition for a lawsuit brought by a group of people who say the Trump Organization pushed an alleged pyramid scheme.

May 12 — Eric Trump is scheduled to give his own deposition for the same lawsuit. Ivanka Trump will also be required to testify, though her deposition date hasn’t yet been finalized. Their father is set to testify the following month.

May 13 — A federal judge has ordered the government to provide a status report on the cooperation of Joel Greenberg, a former Gaetz associate who has pleaded guilty to federal sex trafficking charges.

Greenberg could potentially be a key witness in the Justice Department investigation into Gaetz, one of Trump’s most loyal supporters. He’d been scheduled to be sentenced in March but his attorney requested a delay while his client continues to answer federal investigators’ questions.

May 20 — The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has until this date to respond to motions from the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg to dismiss the criminal charges against them. It’ll be an opportunity to lay down any new evidence they’ve gathered since filing the indictment last July, as well as to dispel reports that the investigation is faltering.

Who is Dairo Úsuga? The leader of the Colombian 'Gulf Clan' cartel is considered the most significant kingpin arrest since Pablo Escobar
4/7 SLIDES © AP Photo/John Bazemore

June

June — Willis told the Associated Press in January that she is expecting to decide whether to charge Trump in Fulton County, Georgia, by the first half of 2022.

June 16 — Two days after his birthday, Trump is scheduled to sit for his deposition in the lawsuit brought by plaintiffs alleging the Trump Organization pushed a pyramid scheme. As Insider’s Yelena Dzhanova reported, they sued after saying they lost thousands of dollars from joining a company called ACN and trying to sell its telephones with video capabilities.

June 29 — Litigants will get to see a copy of Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” tapes. June 29 marks the deadline of discovery for the ACN case. While Trump, in “Celebrity Apprentice,” vouched for the ACN Videophone, litigants are trying to figure out if other footage shot for the show demonstrated otherwise. ACN lost an attempt to bring the case to arbitration, and a jury trial is expected to be scheduled for late 2022 or 2023.

Who is Dairo Úsuga? The leader of the Colombian 'Gulf Clan' cartel is considered the most significant kingpin arrest since Pablo Escobar
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Who is Dairo Úsuga? The leader of the Colombian 'Gulf Clan' cartel is considered the most significant kingpin arrest since Pablo Escobar
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July

July 7 — Prosecutors and Roger Stone, one of Trump’s longtime political advisors, have to meet this deadline for a civil case in which the US Attorney’s Office in Florida alleged Stone failed to pay $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest, and penalties.

July 12 — The New York State Supreme Court will hold a hearing in the Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal case against the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg, who’s become more marginalized within the company following the indictment from last July.

The status conference is expected to update the public on how Trump Organization lawyers are reviewing the 6 million pages of discovery material for the case, in which the Manhattan District Attorney’s office alleges the company and executive dodged millions of dollars in taxes. The judge has also signaled he wants to hold a trial before the end of 2022.

July 18 — Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, is expected to go on trial in Washington, D.C. Bannon is facing two criminal charges over defying a congressional subpoena. The Justice Department formally charged him in November 2021 after he refused to comply with a subpoena handed down from the House Select Committee that is investigating the January 6 riot.

Who is Dairo Úsuga? The leader of the Colombian 'Gulf Clan' cartel is considered the most significant kingpin arrest since Pablo Escobar
6/7 SLIDES © Alex Wong/Getty Images

September

September 7 — Tom Barrack, the chairman of Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee, is set to stand trial in September on charges he secretly acted as an agent of the United Arab Emirates.

Barrack was charged in July with using his access to Trump to advance the United Arab Emirates’ foreign-policy goals and later misleading federal investigators about his activities in a 2019 interview. 

The indictment of the top Trump fundraiser marked an escalation of the Justice Department’s crackdown in recent years on covert foreign influence.

Barrack’s legal team is headlined by Daniel Petrocelli, a partner at the law firm O’Melveny & Myers who previously represented Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and, more recently, defended AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner Inc. against a Justice Department antitrust challenge.

September 26 — The Trump Organization and Donald Trump’s 2016 inaugural fund are expected to go to trial for a lawsuit brought by Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine alleging they misused nonprofit funds. A precise trial date has not been set.

In November, Trump notched a partial win when the judge dismissed part of the suit, but other elements of the case — such as the attorney general’s claim that the committee illegally misused funds — will be moving forward. But on February 15, another judge reversed that decision, reinstating the Trump Organization as a defendant.

US Marshals took custody of Dairo Antonio Úsuga last weekend, ending a longstanding manhunt for the Colombian “Gulf Clan” cartel leader, who is considered one of the most notorious Colombian drug kingpins since Pablo Escobar.

Úsuga was extradited to the US last Wednesday after Colombia’s military captured him in a rural hideout on October 24, 2021, in a special operation that involved 500 soldiers and 22 helicopters.

At the time, Colombian President Iván Duque said that Úsuga was “comparable only to Pablo Escobar,” according to CBS News.

“He is not only the most dangerous drug trafficker in the world, but he is a murderer of social leaders, abuser of boys, girls, and adolescents, a murderer of policemen,” Duque said at a press conference on May 4, announcing Usuga’s extradition to the US.

According to CNN, after his extradition, Úsuga – also known as “Otoniel” – pleaded not guilty to international cocaine manufacturing and distribution conspiracy among a laundry list of other charges in a New York City federal court.

In Colombia, Úsuga was facing at least 122 charges including drug trafficking and murder, and now in the US, Usuga faces indictments in three federal courts. 

According to CBS, Úsuga’s extradition moved forward last week after Duque and the State Council endorsed the move, despite a petition submitted to a Colombian court from Úsuga’s victims, who argued that he needed to face his charges in Colombia first for reparation purposes. During his press conference, Duque reassured citizens that Úsuga would face justice in Colombia as well.

The Justice Department alleged that Úsuga called the shots for “Clan del Golfo,” or the “Gulf Clan,” a prominent cartel responsible for “exporting multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico and Central America for ultimate importation into the United States.”

The Colombian and US governments allege that as the head of the cartel, Usuga worked with right-wing and left-wing paramilitary groups to create a reign of terror and cocaine distribution empire in northwestern Colombia, lasting from 2003 until the present day.

As early as 2009, Úsuga was on the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted list. That year, he was indicted on felony narcotics charges in a Manhattan federal court and also accused of aiding right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia. 

By 2014, Usuga faced new felony drug trafficking charges in New York and, a year later the kingpin faced fresh felony charges related to his cocaine empire in a Florida federal court.

The superseding indictment filed by the Department of Justice after his capture in November 2021 charged Usuga with three felony counts of “continuing criminal enterprise responsible for exporting multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico and Central America for ultimate importation into the United States. “

Usuga rejected Colombia’s peace process, the Clan flourished

Until his capture, the Justice Department and Colombian authorities alleged that Úsuga and his cronies “did not demobilize as part of the Colombian government’s justice and peace process.”

In 2016, the Colombian government engaged in a peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the largest and most historic armed group in the country, which had been locked in a five-decade civil war with the country’s government.

Under then-President Juan Manuel Santos, parties negotiated for four years, and finally reached an agreement meant to disarm FARC and address the longstanding cycles of violence borne in vacuums of power across the country. 

The agreement also sought to root out the presence of other paramilitary groups and illicit cocaine labs, and to return power and land to coca-leaf growers. The framework set up a truth and reconciliation commission to address and assign responsibilities for atrocities committed during Colombia’s civil war.

Colombia is just over a third of the way through its implementation of the goals set out in the peace process, according to human rights advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America.

According to the Guardian, the Gulf Clan thrived during this period of hopeful peace, taking advantage of other groups demobilizing and recruiting foot soldiers from cartels and armed groups to cement a ruthless empire across the country. 

The Justice Department alleges that under Úsuga’s leadership, the Gulf Clan used “violence and intimidation to control the narcotics trafficking routes, cocaine processing laboratories, speedboat departure points, and clandestine landing strips,” operating in almost half of Colombia’s departments. In the indictment, prosecutors allege that Usuga’s group would regularly call for “strikes” and “curfews” in towns under his control, ordering his men to kill anyone seen out in the street rejecting the curfew.

According to CNN, following Úsuga’s extradition to the US, groups associated with him have issued armed curfews in territories under their control. 

The State Department placed a $5 million bounty on Úsuga’s head and claimed that during a turf war over drug routes between the Gulf Clan and an opposing group, “homicides shot up 443% over two years.”

Building an empire

The Justice Department has claimed that as the group’s leader for a decade, Úsuga built one of the largest cocaine distributions in the world. 

The latest indictment alleges that with close to 6,000 members, the Gulf Clan bullied their way to occupy prime drug trafficking real estate in Urabá, Colombia near the Colombia-Panama border and along the Pacific coast. 

The DOJ alleged that the group routinely killed law enforcement, civilians, and rival drug traffickers who stood in their way. In 2015, Reuters reported that human traffickers recruited girls as young as 11 years old as sex slaves for the Urabenos – Úsuga’s previously dominant cartel. 

“Plan Pistolas,” mentioned in the indictment, was a plan devised by the Gulf Clan “to kill Colombian law enforcement and military personnel using military-grade weapons, including grenades, explosives, and assault rifles.”

The Clan also funded their own operations by taxing other drug traffickers operating within their territories, “charging fees for every kilogram of cocaine manufactured, stored, or transported through areas controlled by the organization,” according to the indictment.

The operation, stemming from Colombia, transferred weekly and biweekly multi-ton shipments of cocaine through Central America and Mexico into the US, the indictment said.

Úsuga stayed on the move by hopping through a network of rural safe houses and staying off of the cellular grid, relaying his communications solely through a courier. Ultimately, he was caught in October in a hideout in Antioquia, near the Colombia-Panama border where his group operated. 

If convicted on the felony charges, Usuga faces a maximum life sentence.

Read the original article on Insider

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