Colombia extradites accused drug cartel leader's sister to U.S

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia on Friday extradited to the United States a sister of accused major drug cartel leader Dairo Antonio Usaga, known as Otoniel, to face drug trafficking charges, the national police said.

Colombian police accuse Nini Johana Usaga, 39, of being responsible for laundering drug money for the Clan del Golfo and handling international relations with cartels in other countries like Mexico, helping to coordinate shipments of narcotics.

Her brother, accused head of the Clan del Golfo, was extradited to face drug trafficking charges in the United States in early May. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court in New York.

Authorities say Otoniel, 50, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of members of Colombia's security forces.

Six other people were extradited alongside Nini Johana Usaga to also face drug trafficking charges.

Though extradition was abolished in 1991 in Colombia, congress restored it just six years later. It is one of the main tools in Colombia's arsenal for fighting drug trafficking.

Otoniel, who according to Colombian authorities trafficked between 180 and 200 tonnes of cocaine a year, was detained last October in Antioquia province.

The Clan del Golfo, which has more than 1,200 combatants according to security forces, launched a so-called "armed strike" to protest Otoniel's extradition, paralyzing swathes of Colombia in the process.

Drug trafficking and the war on drugs are major contributors to Colombia's armed conflict, a report from the country's truth commission - established as part of a 2016 peace deal with the now demobilized FARC guerrillas - said this week.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by Grant McCool)

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