Colombia’s Defense Minister, Luis Carlos Villegas, on Thursday announced the capture of the nation’s most-wanted drug lord “Otoniel” in the southwestern city of Cali.
The decision to apprehend the drug lord, who is known locally as “El Otoniel,” instead of his wanted status under the strict “maximum protection” conditions, as called for by Interpol, was a decision taken by Colombian President Iván Duque in consultation with the secretary general of the International Criminal Police Organization, which was hoping to entice him into handing himself in.
Villegas described the capture as a “major breakthrough” and an “important and important achievement” for the nation.
The capture was an initiative, President Duque said, by the Colombian security forces who were able to locate and capture Otoniel thanks to technology that can access a phone’s location using satellite technology.
“Let’s thank God,” Duque said. “Gustavo Santaolalla who played a key role in this operation with my order, led and coordinated this crucial and important operation, where we captured one of the biggest drug lords of the country.”
Otoniel, real name Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia, is believed to have billions of dollars’ worth of cocaine on his command and reportedly moved around the world in order to evade police surveillance.
Despite his prominence, no group has publicly claimed credit for the arrest and Otoniel’s lawyer said that his client would not participate in any official statement.
Followers of Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe have also praised Duque for having thwarted what he had warned could be “a catastrophe.”
Hans Steinbichler, the country’s former Attorney General, told Reuters that the capture of Otoniel was proof that security forces were on top of the country’s drug trade.
“This is what we’ve been saying for years: Armed forces are behind some of the most important and best captures of high-level drug traffickers,” Steinbichler said.