José Santacruz Londoño

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Chepe Santacruz
Chepe 1977.jpg
Santacruz in a 1977 mugshot
José Santacruz Londoño

(1943-10-01)1 October 1943
Died5 March 1996(1996-03-05) (aged 52)
Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Alma materUniversity of Valle
OrganizationCali Cartel

José Santacruz Londoño (1 October 1943 – 5 March 1996), also known as Chepe Santacruz, was a Colombian drug lord. Along with Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela, and Hélmer Herrera Buitrago, Londoño was a leader of the Cali Cartel.


Cali Cartel[edit]

Londoño and the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers formed the Cali Cartel in the 1970s. They were primarily involved in marijuana trafficking. In the 1980s, they branched out into cocaine trafficking. At some point, the cartel supplied 80% of the United States' and 90% of the European cocaine market.[citation needed]

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 than violence. After the demise of the Medellín Cartel, the DEA and Colombian authorities turned their attention toward Cali. The campaign began in the summer of 1995.

Capture and escape[edit]

Several Cali Cartel leaders were arrested during the summer of 1995; Gilberto was arrested on June 9th, Londoño on July 4th, and Miguel on August 7th. However, Londoño escaped on January 11th, 1996, from La Picota prison in Bogotá. His motives for escaping were attributed to a number of reasons.[1]

He was in charge of consolidating the network of hitmen and armed men of the cartel, for which he established an alliance with old members of the Medellín Cartel; he was to exert more control over some of the smuggling networks, which had begun acting more independently after the cartel's leaders were incarcerated; and he coordinated the assassination of about 27 potential witnesses against him and some of the other capos of the cartel, and apparently was arranging for the assassination of important figures of the government.

Muerte (Death)[edit]

Deciding prison wasn't for him, Londoño used connections and lawyers to get him out freely with no charges against him. While Gilberto and Miguel were going along with their plan, Londoño decided to try and get back in the drug trafficking business. He was killed by vigilante group, Los Pepes.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Londoño is portrayed by Nestor Alfonso Rojas in 2010 Caracol TV Series El Cartel as the character of Ignacio 'Nacho' Sotomayor.
  • In 2013 RCN TV series Tres Caínes is portrayed by Carlos Congote as the character of Giuseppe 'Pepe' Santamaría.




  • "Los ultimos dias de Chepe". Semana (in Spanish). 4 August 1996. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  • "El sicario que se volvió capo". El Espectador (in Spanish). 20 March 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2019.

External links[edit]