Colombia's Clan del Golfo gang network extends to 28 countries -police

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Colombia's National Police Director General Jorge Luis Vargas speaks during a news conference about the capture of Dairo Antonio Usuga David, alias "Otoniel", top leader of the Gulf clan,while a screen shows the logos with which the packages of cocaine trafficked by this criminal group are marked, in Bogota, Colombia November 3, 2021. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

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BOGOTA, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Colombian authorities are focused on breaking up the Clan del Golfo gang - whose network extends to 28 countries around the world - after the capture of the group's leader late last month, the country's top cop said on Wednesday.

Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias "Otoniel," was the country's most-wanted drug lord until he was detained in the northern jungle region of Uraba, in what President Ivan Duque said was the hardest recent blow to drug trafficking.

Usuga's former organization has alliances with five international cartels and mafia groups to distribute 20 tonnes of cocaine per month, General Jorge Luis Vargas, the director of the national police, told journalists.

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"Five mafias and international cartels are the principals with whom the Clan del Golfo traffics: Jalisco Nueva Generacion and Sinaloa in Mexico, the Calabresa and Siciliana mafias in Italy and the Balkan networks," Vargas said.

Usuga was laundering the Clan's money with business people of Lebanese, Arab and Israeli origin, Vargas said, without giving details.

"We have identified 28 countries" where cocaine is sent by the group, Vargas said.

Besides regular routes to the United States through Central America, the Clan sends the narcotic to Belguim, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Ireland, Britain, Italy, Albania and Ukraine.

The group has connection as far afield as Iran, China, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, Vargas said.

"It is not common that one organization, and especially a Colombian one, traffics to those countries."

The government has said Otoniel's extradition to the United States on drug trafficking charges is a priority, but Vargas did not give a date for the procedure.

Analysts say Usuga's arrest could break the Clan into small groups, cause an internal war or lead groups like the National Liberation Army rebels to attempt a takeover but is unlikely to affect drug shipments.

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Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by Marguerita Choy

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