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How deadly Clan Del Golfo cartel boss ruled gang with glam 'clone sisters' to create drug empire BIGGER than Escobar | The Sun

THE WORLD'S most dangerous cartel Clan del Golfo has transformed the world of cocaine – unleashing a "tsunami" of the dangerous drug into Europe and America.

Working with the mafia, the clan is linking up with criminals across the world and is now churning out more of the drug than the infamous narcoterrorist Pablo Escobar.



The Clan del Golfo is thought to smuggle 180 to 200 tonnes of cocaine out of Colombia every year – more than at the height of the Colombian kingpin's power.

It commands an army of 1,800 foot soldiers, mainly recruited from paramilitary groups.

Until recently, it was run by Dario Antonio Úsuga David – known as Otoniel.

Among his long list of alleged crimes is forcing girls as young as 12 years old to have sex with him in his jungle hideout.

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Otoniel was arrested last year after seven years on the run with a $5million bounty on his head in a massive operation involving 500 soldiers and 22 helicopters.

The fearsome drug lord, described as one of the world's "most dangerous" traffickers, took over the gang after his brother was killed in a police raid.

He was captured in a raid on his jungle hideout in Uraba.

Otoniel faces charges of sending cocaine to the US, killing police officers, and recruiting children for his massive paramilitary operation.

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His partner Blanca Senobia Madrid Benjumea, known as "La Flaca" who is thought to have been the gang's banker, was arrested in 2015.

It is alleged Otoniel encouraged Blanca to have plastic surgery – and did the same with her three sisters – María, Sandra and Martha – so they all looked the same, reports Semana.

Announcing his capture, Colombia's president Ivan Duque said: "This coup is only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar."

Otoniel sat at the top of a crime family that oversaw Clan Del Golfo.

His sister Nina – known as La Negra – has also been arrested and was extradited to the US last week on trafficking charges.

And the military-style gang has become increasingly violent and powerful – taking over swathes of Colombia.

Speaking to The Sun Online, author and journalist Toby Muse, who spent 15 years infiltrating the Clan del Golfo, explained how they represent an "evolution" in the world of drug cartels.

"Most people are familiar with the traditional structure of the Colombian drug gangs such as the Medellin and Cali Cartels," he said.

"A big drug trafficker sits at the top, and this then goes down in a hierarchy. There will be different teams for logistics, transport, and an armed wing of killers for hire.

"The Clan del Golfo represents the next step. They are a narco militia – an organisation with military-like discipline. Their soldiers wear uniforms and they have access to heavy weaponry.

"While the traditional cartels had handguns, the Clan del Golfo have machine guns."

We have more cocaine being produced in Colombia than in the days of Pablo Escobar

Despite the arrest and extradition to the US of the Clan del Golfo's leader Otoniel last year, Toby warns that another kingpin is always waiting in the wings to take the boss' place.

"The cocaine industry is now so big, it's like a tsunami, and there is always someone who can take over," he said.

"The Clan del Golfo is unlikely to be eclipsed in the short term unless it falls into infighting, although it will be hard to maintain control of a huge organisation that covers the whole of Colombia.

To understand why this change has come about, Toby explains that we have to understand two important factors – the violent origins of the Clan del Golfo, and the huge surge in western demand for cocaine.

"The Clan del Golfo came out of the far-right death squad movement," he said. "They were created by landowners, the military, and local politicians to fight a dirty war against a Marxist insurgency running rampant in the Colombian countryside.

"Over time, they decided to focus on cocaine trafficking to raise money for the war, then the drugs took over."

In the early 2000s, a peace deal was reached in Colombia, bringing the civil war to an end – in theory.

But as Toby points out, although the senior leaders of the right-wing death squads were eventually extradited to face justice, "all of the mid-range commanders were sent home with $500".

This meant that "all the most dangerous people who knew out to transport coke and carry out violent ambushes – men who knew nothing else except cocaine trafficking – were allowed to walk free.



"They took this military discipline and applied it to cocaine. The old-style cartels were no match."

In this way, the Clan del Golfo has spread across Colombia, taking over and controlling territory in the style of an organised militia.

The cocaine industry, Toby explains, is "constantly evolving", with the cartels finding new and ingenious ways to transport and smuggle the drug to supply the world's never-ending demand.

However, while we are currently living in what Toby describes as a "golden age of cocaine," that money is not filtering down to those at the lower rungs of the cartel ladder.

In the past, coca farmers who harvest the leaves which will eventually become cocaine could become rich.

But today, Toby says, coca is the only crop which allows farmers to earn even a half-decent living.

The coca is turned into coca paste – the first step of the cocaine-making process.

A kilo of coca paste is sold for between $300 to $400 – a price, Toby says, which has barely risen in 20 years.

Last month, police in Trieste, northern Italy, made one of the biggest-ever drug seizures in Europe, getting hold of 4.3 tonnes of cocaine worth an estimated 240 million Euros (more than £205m).

The drugs were reportedly smuggled into Europe by the Clan del Golfo, working with the Italian mafia.



Toby explains that such collaborations between global crime syndicates will only become more common as the cocaine industry grows bigger and bigger.

"So many different countries are reporting their largest-ever cocaine busts in the past few years," he said.

"This shows how much of the drug is out there. That means it's being pushed harder than ever before.

"Local crime groups in Colombia and around the world are therefore making more money, which makes them stronger and allows them to recruit more people."

And he points to the failure of decades of anti-drug policies from successive governments around the world to do anything to dent the global cocaine trade.

"We have had a 'War on Drugs' for 50 years," he said. "For the past two decades, there have been battles to destroy the cocaine industry in Colombia, with the support of all major political parties in the US and UK.

"But at the end of it, we have more cocaine being produced in Colombia than in the days of Pablo Escobar. Escobar couldn't have dreamt of this world. Governments don't know what to do.

"They try and turn it on cocaine consumers, but if you look back to US prohibition of alcohol, I don't see the guy buying a pint at the end of the week as the villain.

"It was a series of bad policies that created the black market which most monsters like Al Capone millionaires. Otherwise, he's just a thug on a street corner."

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Toby adds: "Colombia has the right to turn to the rest of the world and ask, 'why is the world consuming so much cocaine?'

"We're doing nothing in the US and UK to lower drug use, we've given up. The consumption of cocaine fuels violence in Colombia."

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