Colombian Drug Lord Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison in US

Image copyright: MinDefensa Colombia/Youtube [via Wikimedia Commons]

The Facts

  • A Brooklyn federal judge on Tuesday sentenced the infamous Colombian cocaine trafficker Dairo Antonio Úsuga David — known by the alias Otoniel — to 45 years in jail.

  • The ruling came after Judge Dora Irizarry dismissed the defense's arguments that Úsuga became a career criminal due to being born into poverty, surrounded by guerrilla warfare, citing the fact that her own childhood in an impoverished part of the Bronx hadn't resulted in a life of crime.

The Spin

Pro-establishment narrative

Otoniel's sentencing is another success for the US-Colombia partnership, which will weaken the Clan del Golfo cartel and make Otoniel pay for at least part of the pain he has caused to people in both countries. Additionally, in a broader sense, Tuesday's ruling stresses that the US will never let leaders of murderous drug trafficking organizations find safe haven in America.

Establishment-critical narrative

Though Otoniel may well spend the rest of his life in prison, his sentence is worthless — the former leader of the Clan del Golfo shouldn't have been extradited in the first place. Being prosecuted in the US means Colombia is prevented from making Otoniel pay for his crimes in the nation, bringing justice to his victims, or revealing uncomfortable truths about his illegal activities.

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