DEA Press Release

July 5, 1995

Arrest of Cali mafia leader Jose Santacruz-Londono

Thomas A. Constantine, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today congratulated the Colombian Government for the arrest of Jose Santacruz-Londono, one of the leaders of the Cali mafia. "The arrest of Santacruz-Londono in Bogota, Colombia last night is another crippling blow to the Cali mafia. Coupled with the arrest last month of Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela, this action by the Colombian National Police demonstrates that the Cali mafia is not invincible. Santacruz-Londono has long been a vicious player in the international cocaine trade, and his arrest is welcome news to the DEA."

Constantine said that he hoped "the Colombian Government would keep up the momentum" and continue their efforts against the Cali mafia. "The Colombian National Police has done an outstanding job to date, and General Serrano is to be commended for his leadership and dedication."

Santacruz-Londono's cocaine distribution and money laundering operation centers around the New York metropolitan area. In 1992, the DEA seized two cocaine conversion laboratories in Brooklyn, New York, that were directly linked to Santacruz-Londono. He is considered one of the most violent members of the Cali mafia, and is an expert manager of worldwide cocaine distribution, as well as production and money laundering.

The Cali mafia is responsible for 80 percent of the world's cocaine supply, and has an estimated annual income of $7 billion (8 times larger than the DEA budget). Financial records indicate Santacruz-Londono's net worth at several billion dollars.

Records indicate two known arrests for Santacruz-Londono. The first occurred in 1976 when he travelled from New York to Costa Rica on a U.S. passport. The second took place in 1977 when he was arrested in Queens, New York by the N.Y. City Police on weapons charges. He served no jail time. Santacruz-Londono has been a DEA fugitive since April 1980, and has been indicted four times in the United States, most recently in the Cali lawyer case (Operation Cornerstone) in Miami. Constantine said that he hoped that "the Colombian Government would keep up the momentum" and continue their efforts against the Cali mafia.

Santacruz-Londono, the number three leader of the Cali drug mafia, was taken into custody on July 4th by Colombian National Police at 8:00 pm while he dined at the Carbon de Polo Restaurant in Bogota, Colombia.

Santacruz-Londono is one of the premier drug traffickers in the world, who has been involved in large-scale cocaine trafficking since 1970. The Santacruz organization operates in the United States primarily in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Las Vegas, and Chicago. DEA investigations also have tied Santacruz-Londono to drug money laundering operations in various cities in Europe and the Americas.

In addition to drug trafficking, Santacruz is wanted for the 1989 assassination of former Antioquia (Colombia) Governor Antonio Roldan Betancur, and is linked to the 1992 murder of journalist Manuel de Dios Unanue in New York.

Constantine said, "In its war against the Cali drug mafia, the Colombian Government is to be commended for this arrest, and for the recent arrest of Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela. However, major mafia leaders like Santacruz-Londono and Rodriguez-Orejuela must be prosecuted and punished to the extent commensurate with their nefarious criminal acitivities, and cannot be permitted to manage their operations from prison."

Travel back to the DRCNet Response to the DEA Home Page

Travel back to the DRCNet Response to the DEA Press Release List