DEA Press Release

June 9, 1995

Arrest of Cali mafia leader Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela

Today, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Thomas A. Constantine, congratulated the Government of Colombia on the arrest of one of the world's most notorious cocaine traffickers, Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela. "This arrest is evidence that no drug mafia leaders are above the law, no matter how powerful they are, and no matter where they hide. The Government of Colombia is to be congratulated for their commitment and persistence. The arrest of Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela signals the beginning of the end of the Cali mafia."

The Cali mafia is the most powerful drug trafficking organization in history and has operations in many nations of the world, including the United States. According to Constantine, "The Cali mafia has spread its poison, death and destruction to the streets of small towns and major cities around the world." They are responsible for 80 percent of the world's cocaine and have annual profits estimated at $8 billion.

Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela and his younger bother Miguel control the most powerful branch of the Cali mafia. Gilberto is the strategic planner of the Cali mafia, and the organization is involved in every stage of the cocaine trade from the jungles of Peru to the streets of the United States. It is customary for the Rodriguez-Orejuela organization to contract cocaine shipments to Mexican trafficking organizations who transport the cocaine into the United States.

"The United States and Colombia have worked closely together to target and capture these Cali mafia leaders. Rodriguez-Orejuela is a major kingpin in the world cocaine trade," said Constantine. "Rodriguez-Orejuela who is known as the 'Chess Player' has been backed into a corner. Thanks to the Colombian Government he has no moves left," said Constantine.

A 1989 U.S. indictment for drug trafficking emanating in New Orleans and evidence shared with the Government of Colombia provided the impetus for Rodriguez-Orejuela's arrest. Rodriguez-Orejuela was indicted again this week in Miami, along with other members of the Cali mafia, for the illegal importation of over 200,000 kilograms of cocaine over the last 10 years.

Constantine praised the special effort of General Serrano, head of the Colombian National Police. "General Serrano knew this day would come, and the United States is grateful for his commitment and bravery, and the commitment and bravery of the men and women of the Colombian National Police. I met with General Serrano a month ago and he personally assured me that he would do everything in his power to capture the kingpins. He has proven to be true to his word."

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