DEA Press Release

January 12, 1996

Escape of Cali mafia leader Jose Santacruz-Londono

On January, 11, 1996, the Government of Colombia announced the escape of Cali mafia leader Jose Santacruz-Londono from a maximum security prison in Bogota, Colombia. Upon learning of the escape, Thomas A. Constantine, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated:

"The escape of Jose Santacruz-Londono realizes the fears I expressed to Colombian Defense Minister Esquerra during our meeting on November 16, 1995. At that time, I expressed my concern that the security measures at La Picota Prison were inadequate and could not insure the continued incarceration of the Cali mafia leaders."

Jose Santacruz-Londono, considered by the DEA to be one of the top three leaders of the Cali mafia, was captured in Colombia on July 4, 1995. He is currently under indictment for drug trafficking in the United States and has been implicated in the murder of a reporter, Manuel de Dios Unanue, who was killed while investigating Londono’s drug trafficking activities in New York.

"This is the Envigado scenario revisited" stated Constantine, referring to the plush, mafia-controlled prison from which Pablo Escobar, the infamous leader of the Medellin Cartel, escaped in 1992.

"Incarceration in the United States is what Londono and the rest of the Cali mafia leadership fear the most" said Constantine. "If the Government of Colombia does not have the resources to guarantee the continued imprisonment of these international thugs, perhaps they should consider extraditing them to the United States where they could be safely housed in an American prison."

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