Former Cali Cartel leader Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela dies in U.S. prison

Photo: Semana TV

The former leader of Colombia’s Cali Cartel, Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, died Wednesday in a U.S. prison at the age of 83. After being captured by Colombian authorities in 1995 and extradited to the U.S in 2004, Mr. Rodríguez Orejuela was serving a 30-year sentence in a North Carolina federal jail.

According to U.S. estimates, the Cali Cartel generated up to USD 8 billion per year during its heydays in the 1980s and ’90s, but was fully defeated by 2014 — although other drug trafficking organizations have emerged to take its place, just like the Cali Cartel did in 1993 after the downfall of Pablo Escobar’s Medellín Cartel.

The cartel made most of its money through cocaine trafficking to the U.S. and Europe, and was involved in the entire production and supply chain, from harvesting the coca leaves to processing the cocaine and transporting the drugs.