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Dairo Antonio Usuga David, alias "Otoniel", top leader of the Gulf clan, poses for a photo while escorted by Colombian military soldiers inside a helicopter after being captured, in Turbo, Colombia October 23, 2021.

Colombian Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

What We're Watching: Colombia nabs top druglord

Colombia nabs top drug kingpin: Colombian security forces have arrested Dairo Antonio Usuga, the most-wanted drug kingpin in the country since Pablo Escobar. Usuga – known by his alias Otoniel – is head of the notorious Gulf Cartel, and will likely be extradited to face a slew of charges in the US, which had a $5 million bounty on his head. While some say Otoniel's capture is a big win for Colombia, others say that rather than striking a blow to narco-related violence, the strategy of taking down kingpins creates more power struggles within cartels, in turn leading to more violence and bloodshed. This was the case following the 1993 death of Escobar and the 2016 arrest of "El Chapo" Guzmán in Mexico. Still, if Otoniel spills the beans on his operations in exchange for a lighter sentence in America, that could provide critical intelligence for Colombian and US drug enforcement to better target other narcos at a time when large swaths of rural Colombia are now ruled by gangs, contributing to regional instability.

Ari Winkleman

The Graphic Truth: How opium kept the Taliban going

The Taliban (officially) banned opium cultivation before 9/11 and the subsequent US invasion that ousted them from power in Afghanistan. But in the 20 years since, the group has taken over most of the country's vast poppy fields, becoming the Pablo Escobars of the global opium trade. The drug has been so lucrative for the Taliban that without it, they may not have had the longevity and military capacity to make the decisive territorial gains seen in Afghanistan in recent weeks. We look at opium cultivation since 1994, spanning the Afghan civil war, Taliban rule, and the US occupation.

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