A Colombian drug lord known as King Don Mario has been sentenced to 35 years in prison in the US, according to the BBC.

A New York court has sentenced a known Colombian paramilitary leader and drug trafficker to 35 years in prison.

Daniel Rendón Herrera, known as Don Mario, led the right-wing paramilitary group the United Self-Defense Forces (AUC). The group, originally formed to combat left-wing guerrillas, became involved in kidnappings, assassinations and extortion.

Guilty of trafficking more than 80 tons of cocaine

Don Mario, 57, was captured in a rural hideout in 2009. At the time, he was Colombia’s most wanted gang leader. He was extradited to the United States in 2018 and last year pleaded guilty to trafficking more than 80 tons of cocaine to the US.

The AUC military group had thousands of fighters. To finance itself, the organization levied taxes on cocaine smuggled into the territories it controlled and engaged in drug trafficking. Members of the AUC were behind some of the worst massacres in Colombia. Tens of thousands of Colombians have been displaced by the group’s violence.

Many of the group’s members gave up fighting following a peace accord in 2003. However, Don Mario refused to lay down his arms and founded the Gulf Clan criminal gang.

Colombia’s most feared gang

Under his leadership, it became the most feared gang in Colombia, trafficking tons of cocaine to the US and killing anyone in their path. Among other things, when the police intensified their search, Don Mario offered a reward of $1,000 for anyone who killed a policeman. After nine months of searching, he was located and caught in the province of Antioquia.

US Drug Enforcement Agency agents described him as “one of the most prolific drug traffickers ever to operate in Colombia.”

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