Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela

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Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela
Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela
Born Gilberto José Rodríguez Orejuela
(1939-01-30) January 30, 1939 (age 78)
Mariquita, Tolima, Colombia
Other names "El Ajedrecista" (The Chess Player)
Criminal penalty 30 years (360 months) for conspiracy to import cocaine
7.25 years (87 months) for money laundering, sentences to run concurrently. Forfeiture of $2.1 billion in assets.
Criminal status Imprisoned at FCC Butner

Conspiracy to import 5kg or more of cocaine.

Conspiracy to engage in money laundering

Gilberto José Rodríguez Orejuela (born on January 30, 1939, in Mariquita, Tolima)[1][2][3] is a Colombian drug lord, formerly one of the leaders of the Cali Cartel, based in the city of Cali.

Cali Cartel[edit]

Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, along with his brother Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela and José Santacruz Londoño, formed the Cali Cartel in the 1970s. They were initially primarily involved in marijuana trafficking. In the 1980s, they branched out into cocaine trafficking. For a time, the Cali Cartel supplied 80% of the United States through Rodriguez's son, Jorge Alberto Rodriguez, and 90% of the European cocaine market.

The Cali Cartel was less violent than its rival, the Medellín Cartel. While the Medellín Cartel was involved in a brutal campaign of violence against the Colombian government, the Cali Cartel grew. The cartel was much more inclined toward bribery rather than violence. However, after the demise of Pablo Escobar the Colombian authorities turned their attention to the Cali Cartel. The police campaign against the cartel began in the summer of 1995. President Samper dispatched a "joint task force" code named "Search Bloc" formed by top police and elite commandos headed by Police General Rosso Jose Serrano declaring an all out war against the drug cartels.


On June 9, 1995, Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela was arrested by the Colombian National Police (CNP) during a house raid in Cali. When the police searched the home several days earlier, Rodriguez-Orejeula hid in a hollowed-out bathroom cabinet with an oxygen tank. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He was temporarily freed in early November 2002, due to a controversial judicial order issued by deputy judge Pedro José Suárez, who considered that the above reduction was applicable through habeas corpus. He was recaptured by Colombian authorities in Cali, in March 2003.;[4]

Extradition to the United States[edit]

Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela processed after being captured

Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela was extradited to the United States on December 3, 2004.[5] His brother Miguel was also extradited to the US in March 2005.

On September 26, 2006, both Gilberto and Miguel were sentenced to 30 years in prison, after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to import cocaine to the U.S.[6] They took this deal in exchange for the United States agreeing not to bring charges against their family members. Their lawyers -- David Oscar Markus and Roy Kahn—were able to obtain immunity for 29 family members.

On November 16, 2006 the brothers pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to engage in money laundering. Both were sentenced to an additional 87 months in prison.[7] The two prison terms were set to run concurrently.

Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela is serving his 30-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Butner, a medium-security facility in North Carolina.[8]

Popular culture[edit]

Rodríguez Orejuela is portrayed by the actor Harold Devasten as the character of Gildardo Gonzalez in the TV Series Escobar, el patrón del mal.

In the Netflix Original Series Narcos he is portrayed by Damián Alcázar.[9]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]