Dairo Antonio Úsuga, known as Otoniel, was seized after a joint army, air force and police operation on Saturday.
Úsuga led the country’s largest criminal gang and has been on the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) most wanted list for years.
US officials had placed a $5m (£3.6m) bounty on his head.
What is Otoneil Accused Of?
Otoneil was accused of importing at least 73 metric tonnes of cocaine into the country between 2003 and 2014.
What will happen?
Authorities have now taken Otoniel to a military base in Bogotá ahead of his extradition, according to national newspaper El Nuevo Siglo.
Colombia’s Defence Minister Diego Molano told El Tiempo newspaper that the next step for officials was to comply with the US extradition order. Being locked up in a jail thousands of miles from their home country, in a place where they little influence, is a fate many Colombian drug traffickers fear.
Pablo Escobar famously said he would prefer “lying in a grave in Colombia than being locked up in a cell in the US”.
Except for a six-year period between 1991 and 1997, when Colombia’s constitution banned extraditions of Colombian citizens, a number of top level traffickers facing indictments in the US have been sent to stand trial there.
Otoniel, who was indicted in the the US in 2009, will faces a number of charges, including sending shipments of cocaine to the US, killing police officers and recruiting children.
How The Capture Took Place
Otoniel was captured in his rural hideout in Antioquia province in north-western Colombia, close to the border with Panama, with 500 soldiers supported by 22 helicopters.
One police officer lost his life.
Otoniel had successfully evaded law enforcement, using a network of rural safe houses to move around and and did not use a phone, instead relying on couriers for communication. Police also found special orthopedic mattresses for Otoniel in these sparse homes, as he suffered from a herniated disc.
His movements were gradually traced by more than 50 signal intelligence experts using satellite imagery. US and UK agencies were involved in the search. El Tiempo reported that authorities managed to pinpoint the location where he was eventually captured two weeks ago.
Authorities described the operation as “the biggest penetration of the jungle ever seen in the military history of our country”
Colombia’s armed forces later released a photo showing its soldiers guarding Otoniel, who was in handcuffs and wearing rubber boots.
There have been several huge operations involving thousands of officers to capture the 50-year-old in recent years, but one of Colombia’s most wanted men always proved elusive.
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