Dairo Antonio Usuga David
Dairo Antonio Usuga David Ivan Duque/Twitter

Infamous Colombian drug lord Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, also known as Otoniel, was sentenced to 45 years in a U.S. prison Tuesday, with a federal judge calling him "more prolific" than Pablo Escobar.

Otoniel, 51, led the "multi-billion-dollar paramilitary and drug trafficking organization" Clan del Golfo. It was described by prosecutors as "one of the most violent and most powerful criminal organizations in Colombia" and one of the world's largest cocaine distributors. The group is known for controlling cocaine routes into Mexico and America.

Prosecutors said Otoniel was the cartel's "principal leader for approximately 10 years" and that he helped ship nearly 100,000 kilograms (220,500 pounds) of cocaine to the U.S.

Otoniel led "one of the largest cocaine trafficking organizations in the world, where he directed the exportation of massive amounts of cocaine to the United States and ordered the ruthless execution of Colombian law enforcement, military officials, and civilians," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, the notorious drug trafficker was also sentenced to 45 years for his involvement in a maritime narcotics conspiracy and 45 years for engaging in a narcotics importation conspiracy. Prosecutors said that the sentences would run concurrently. He also needs to pay $216 million in forfeiture.

Otoniel pled guilty to all the charges in January.

While handing down the sentence for the drug lord, U.S. district judge Dora Irizarry told his lawyers, "There are many drug dealers who were more prolific than Pablo Escobar, including your client." Escobar was the former Medellin cartel leader who was killed in a joint U.S.-Colombia operation in 1993.

Otoniel addressed the court Tuesday and again accepted his "responsibility for the crimes committed." He apologized to the relatives of the victims and the U.S. and Colombian governments "for the damage caused," CNN reported.

In a message to the Colombian youth, he said, "Don't take the same path that I took. The armed conflict should stay in the past. Weapons should stay in the past."

Otoniel was captured in Colombia in October 2021, when Ivan Duque was the country's president. Later, the drug lord was extradited to the United States.

Following the jail sentence, Duque tweeted, "Alias ​​'Otoniel', the criminal comparable to drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, abuser of children and adolescents, murderer of police officers and social leaders, captured during our government, was sentenced to 45 years in prison by a Federal Court of the Eastern District of NY."

He said this jail sentence "vindicates part of the pain that this bandit caused in our country."

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