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Drug trafficking

Alleged Gulf Clan leaders captured in Colombia

One of the Gulf Clan leaders must answer for drug trafficking charges in the Eastern District of Texas

Capturan dos jefes del Clan del Golfo relacionados con el "paro armado" en Colombia
Capturan dos jefes del Clan del Golfo relacionados con el "paro armado" en Colombia | Cortesía Twitter

May 19, 2022 5:48pm

Updated: May 20, 2022 12:40pm

At least two alleged leaders of the Gulf Clan were captured on Thursday for the violent events of the "armed strike" called after the extradition of the Colombian criminal gang's top leader, Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias Otoniel.

During a police operation, authorities arrested Yeison Beltrán Moreno, alias El Zarco, in a neighborhood of Barrancabermeja (Santander). He is allegedly responsible for selective homicides in the Magdalena Medio valley, as well as for "orchestrating the burning of vehicles during the armed strike" that occurred on May 5 and 6.

El Zarco, accused of being an alleged urban and financial leader of the Gulf Clan, attempted to escape but was thwarted by the swift reaction of the Colombian Army.

According to authorities, the 32-year-old drug trafficker had ordered others to draw graffiti with the letters AGC (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia) on different houses, commercial facades, and vehicles to generate fear among the community during the days of the strike, reported the Colombian media Semana.

The police operation also captured Antonio Ballesteros, alias Toño, who is wanted by a court in the Eastern District of Texas for drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit a crime. He is considered a "high-value target" by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Toño is reportedly the right-hand man of Giovanni de Jesús Ávila Villadiego, alias Chiquito Malo, Otoniel's heir and the main promoter of the armed strike carried out by the Gulf Clan during the first days of May, according to local media reports.

"The capture of alias Toño, for extradition purposes, was made effective at kilometer 23 of the Medellín-Llanos de Cuivá highway, when he was traveling in a high-end van in the company of someone who is apparently his romantic partner," said the police after confirming his capture.

Toño is said to be responsible for the shipment of at least 12 tons of cocaine hydrochloride to the United States via Go Fast boats that left from the West Coast of the Gulf of Urabá, in municipalities such as Unguía or Acandí in Chocó, and also to other countries such as Panama and Costa Rica.

Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias Otoniel, the top leader of the Gulf Clan, was extradited to the US on Wednesday, May 4.

The drug trafficker was transferred from a police headquarters in Bogota to the Catam military base next to El Dorado International Airport, where he boarded a plane and was handed over to US authorities, according to images released by the Colombian police in which the drug lord appears crestfallen and handcuffed. 

In Colombia, he has 122 arrest warrants and six convictions, including two 40 and 50-year prison sentences, for aggravated homicide, homicide of a protected person, forced disappearance, forced displacement, and illegal recruitment of minors, among other crimes.