Colombia seizes more than 17,500 pounds of cocaine from drug gang

May 18, 2016

May 16,2016 – (CNN) Police in Colombia seized eight tonnes (more than 17,500 pounds) of cocaine from a gang in a series of operations across the country in recent days, authorities said.

The drug bust was part of an offensive against a narcotrafficking criminal gang called Clan Úsuga, authorities said.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos congratulated police on Twitter for carrying out the operation, which he said resulted in the largest drug seizure ever.

The Colombian Defense Ministry called it the biggest cocaine seizure on Colombian territory in history.

Pictures released by police showed hundreds of pre-packaged bricks of drugs laid out by police.

One of the men, whose alias is “Micolta,” is charged with extortion and ordering homicides and is under investigation for a host of other crimes.

Clan Úsuga is one of Colombia’s most powerful criminal gangs and has been designated as a narcotics trafficking group by the United States.

The U.S. Justice Department calls Clan Úsuga Colombia’s “largest and most influential drug trafficking group” and has charged a handful of its alleged leaders with related crimes.

The State Department has offered $5 million for help that leads the capture of the group’s leader, Dairo “Otoniel” Úsuga.

It claims he leads Los Urabeños, “a heavily armed, extremely violent criminal organization comprised of former members of terrorist organizations that did not demobilize as part of the Colombian government’s justice and peace process.