ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Good afternoon. We've got an all-star lineup for all of you today. This morning Miguel and Alberto Rodriguez-Orejuela, brothers who ran the infamous Cali drug cartel in Colombia for more than 20 years, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Miami to a charge of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States. They each were immediately sentenced to 30 years in prison. The brothers also agreed to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering by hiding the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.
These two men were responsible for importing more than 200 tons of cocaine into this country over the course of many years. While at the height of their power, the intimidation and violence of their cartel held the people of the Colombian countryside hostage to fear.
Thanks to truly historic cooperative efforts by U.S. law enforcement agencies and the Colombian government, these men today face U.S. justice. In court this morning, the two brothers agreed to pay a $2.1 billion forfeiture. In addition, in a separate agreement, 28 of the Rodriguez-Orejuela family members agreed to forfeit all of their assets anywhere in the world that were obtained directly or indirectly with narcotics proceeds.
We anticipate that these assets will be found to be in the form of everything from bank and investment accounts to businesses, luxury residences, and more.
The brothers' guilty pleas effectively signal the final fatal blow to the powerful Cali cartel. There are always other traffickers, and thus continuing the challenges for law enforcement. But this is a day of pride for the people of Colombia and for international law enforcement.
The arrest, extradition to the United States, and now the conviction of these criminals were all made possible by extraordinary cooperation between the United States and Colombia, our valued partner in the war to eradicate narcotics trafficking, and the violence and corruption that accompanies it.
I am pleased to be joined at the podium by Ambassador Carolina Barco and wish to extend my deepest thanks on behalf of our country for the partnership and the bravery of President Uribe and the Colombian government. Together we have proven that Colombia will not be held hostage by drug lords, and that those who seek to flood the neighborhoods of the United States with the poison of illegal drugs will be held accountable. They will be discovered, and they will be brought to justice.
I want to add that I believe our fight against illegal drugs has benefited from some of the reforms to our government that came after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. During that time, law enforcement agencies took important steps to ensure information sharing and efficient use of resources. One of the tools developed was a unified national law enforcement list of the most significant drug and money laundering targets. The Cali cartel was on that list, the Consolidated Priority Organization Target or CPOT list.
CPOT has enabled drug enforcement officers at all levels to assemble the resources necessary to zero in on the worst of the drug trafficking organizations, like the Cali cartel. Of the 46 current CPOTs, 37 are under indictment in the U.S. In the last three years, law enforcement has completely dismantled 24 CPOT organizations and significantly disrupted one additional CPOT organization.
As with all matters of law enforcement, organization, cooperation and partnerships are what counted most in this case. In that spirit, I want to thank and congratulate the investigators and prosecutors who were involved, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security, represented here by Julie Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security; the Drug Enforcement Administration represented by Karen Tandy, the DEA Administrator; the Office of Foreign Asset Control at the Treasury Department represented by Adam Szubin, the director; the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Florida, represented by U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta; the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York, represented by Deputy U.S. Attorney Cathy Seibel; and the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Criminal Division and the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces at the Department of Justice represented by Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher.
I would also like to acknowledge the terrific partnership of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, represented here by Director John Walters.
Now some of the agencies' participants will be making a few statements, beginning with the Assistant Secretary, Julie Myers, and afterwards we'll take any questions.
MS. MYERS: Today's historic plea agreements are the culmination of 15 years of commitment, international teamwork and exceptional investigative efforts by many agencies. These guilty pleas also mark the end of one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world.
In its heyday, the Cali cartel was responsible for roughly 80 percent of the cocaine supplied to the U.S. The organization was also behind a campaign of violence, murder and corruption that for more than 20 years impacted numerous governments and countless individuals around the globe.
ICE agents in Miami first launched their probe into the Cali cartel in 1991, after a very alert Customs dog found cocaine hidden in some concrete posts. And over the next 15 years, ICE agents worked hand-in-hand with Colombian authorities, the DEA, and many other agencies to dismantle this organization from top to bottom.
With today's guilty plea and sentencing, the founders of this cartel are now outfitted in U.S. prison garb, and they will serve a 30-year prison sentence. These criminals rank as the highest level drug figures to ever occupy a U.S. jail cell. And this unprecedented accomplishment is a tribute to the ICE agents in Miami, New York and Colombia who worked tirelessly and fearlessly to take down this criminal organization.
And I'd like to single out ICE Special Agent Ed Cazarossci in particular for his incredible efforts on this case. He was on this case from day one. Fifteen years later, still working on this case, a key member.
We also owe a special debt of gratitude to the many Colombian law enforcement officers, specifically the Colombian vetted teams, who risked their lives to bring about these unprecedented results. For years, the Cali cartel leaders thought they could operate beyond the reach of law enforcement. But the tenacity and perseverance of this investigation sent a clear message that no degree of money, violence or corruption will protect kingpins from the rule of law.
Cross-border crime poses an ongoing threat to our homeland, and fighting this threat calls for courage, leadership, perseverance and partnership, and that's just what we've seen in this case. I can assure that ICE and the Department of Homeland Security remain as committed as ever to combating the global drug trade and the murderous groups behind it.
And now it's my pleasure to introduce the DEA Administrator, Karen Tandy.
MS. TANDY: Today will go down in history as the last nail in the coffin of the Cali cartel. Every year, DEA arrests thousands of significant drug traffickers, almost 30,000 alone last year. Some of them are among the world's most wanted traffickers, but it doesn't get any bigger than today: Bringing to justice the two remaining leaders, founding leaders of the notorious Cali cartel, Miguel and Alberto Rodriguez-Orejuela.
Today's guilty pleas and the sentencing that they received show that when law enforcement and countries band together like the United States and Colombia, drug dynasties topple. And it includes those which one thought themselves impervious to the rule of law, one after another, from the ruthless Medellin cartel to the once powerful now Cali cartel, and to their successors, the Norte Valle cartel, which tried to pick up where the Medellin and Cali cartels failed, and now are fragmented and splintered, with their key leaders facing U.S. charges.
And to conclude with the entire leadership of the FARC, which has been charged in the United States and is now trying to avoid the same inevitable fate as the Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers and their cartel today.
For decades, the Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers defined the label "kingpin." During little more than a decade, their Cali cartel sold, as you have heard, more than 30,000 kilograms of cocaine and amassed an illicit fortune that was worth in excess of one billion dollars.
There is no doubt that if these two brother drug lords were legitimate, they'd be in the top tier of the Forbes list of the richest people in this world. But their drug fortune became their Achilles heel. And it was the hundreds of pharmacies that concealed and sheltered their drug profits that paved their way to the ultimate American justice that they received today.
Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela was known as the chess player for his ability to stay ahead of his rivals and law enforcement. To the chess player today, we just have one last thing to say: Checkmate.
And now I would like to introduce John Walters, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
MR. WALTERS: Thank you, Karen. I'd like to add my congratulations to those of the Attorney General's and those that came before me to the many people in Colombia and in the United States, U.S. Attorney's Offices and enforcement agencies who brought this case to the conclusion that we see today.
The credit also goes obviously to President Uribe and his courage in working aggressively with U.S. officials, extraditing key individuals, these two individuals being the largest in terms of their reach and responsibility for the drug problem in this hemisphere.
People in the past talked about the Cali cartel as the peaceful cartel, but their reign of terror and blood, their war with Pablo Escobar in the early nineties, still haunts the collective memory of many in Colombia and many in this country that worked against them. It was -- the Cali cartel was one of the most powerful criminal organizations ever, seeking to buy or kill anybody that got in their way. They sought to influence a president, a defense minister, an entire city and make it their own. They had a counterintelligence network. They monitored phones. They even targeted people calling the U.S. Embassy in Bogota.
One of them, Santacruz Londono, built an enormous mansion shaped like the United States to honor, as he said, his customers. When -- he was working on a 30,000 square foot replica of the White House when he died, in addition.
Ivan Urdinola and his brother were credited with the torture and murder of more than a hundred people, whose bodies they threw into the Colca River to float downstream and terrorize those who would stand against them. They were as bloody and as ruthless as it gets.
Today, most of the Cali cartel founders are dead; Pacho Herrera, Jose Santacruz Londono, Ivan Urdinola. What is left is here in the United States in Miami. And they have just been convicted, as you heard, two more felons who have lost their battle to the U.S. justice system and to the international effort to bring to justice those who would harm others.
Our strategy in Colombia is working. We are attacking traffickers across all fronts, as you've heard, by eradication, interdiction and organizational attack. By putting traffickers on the defensive, life is much better in Colombia. Violence and homicides, massacres have dropped to levels not seen in decades. Travel through Colombia has become safer, and Colombians have taken back their country. They're on the front lines.
By reducing cultivation in fields, we increase the financial risk to growers and take income away from illegal armed groups that control the production of the end cocaine cycle.
I would like to take a moment finally to remember those men and women in Colombia, our own citizens and those of our allies, who gave their lives in this fight. They made this day possible, and we are profoundly grateful to them and their families for the sacrifices they have made for freedom and justice.
The Rodriguez brothers' arrest is a testament to the men and women of the Columbian National Police, other Colombian officials, the dedicated efforts of ICE, DEA, personnel from the high intensity drug trafficking areas that involve state, federal and local law enforcement, and for all the prosecutors and enforcement personnel that made this case a reality.
Finally, I'd like to take a moment and introduce a representative of Colombia, Ambassador Carolina Barco, who has been an ally in Colombia, and we're fortunate to have her here today as a representative and our ambassador from Colombia to Washington, D.C.
AMBASSADOR BARCO: I will be reading a statement sent by Mario Iguaran, who is the Attorney General of Colombia and who worked very closely with the Attorney General here in the United States. This is his statement:
The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Colombia endorses the agreement reached in the U.S. District Court, District of South Florida, between the United States of American and the members of the Rodriguez-Orejuela family, and considers it a historic judicial decision for both countries in their struggle against organized crime.
This agreement fulfills the objectives of fair administration of justice based on the principles of efficiency, procedural economy and effective and reciprocal cooperation, and does not violate any of the rights contained in the Colombian Constitution, and especially that of due process in Article 29 of the aforementioned charter, in accordance with international treaties entered into and ratified by Colombia.
As regards the action of extinction of ownership, the aforementioned agreement reflects the will of the Rodriguez-Orejuela family to surrender their illicit property in Colombia to the Colombian state, represented by the Prosecutor General, who in observance of the guidelines set out in Law 793 of 202, will define the pertinent procedure with the advent of the parties.
This procedure will result in the promptness, effectiveness and verity and of the extinction action so that the illegally acquired goods be definitely transferred to the Colombian state to the fund for rehabilitation, social investment and fight against organized crime, which is managed by the National Narcotics Directorate.
The Colombian prosecutor's office considers that this agreement concludes one of the most painful chapters of our recent history that brought grave harm to our society at the cost of the precious gift of life or many of our citizens, including prosecutors, judges and magistrates, and undermined the institutional organizations that vehemently confront organized crime on a daily basis, seeking to preserve the economic, social and legal balance in Colombia. Sincerely, Mario Herman Iguaran, Prosecutor General of Colombia.
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Thank you, Ambassador.
Before taking your questions, let me just say that Columbia is our top extradition partner. Since 1997, when the Constitution was interpreted to allow for the extradition of Colombian nationals, there have been 453 -- I believe that’s right, 453 Colombians who have been extradited to the United States, and so they really have been a tremendous partner is helping us fight and make great successes in this war against narcotics trafficking.
We’ve got a wealth of talent up here with a lot of experience and information, so we’re happy to take your questions. It may be helpful, if you have specific individuals you would like to answer a question, to please identify that individual.
QUESTION: What happens to the 28 relatives that have -- do they get off? Do they not -- is there anything that can -- can they be charged at all or with their -- are they just --
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: They are subject to a separate agreement, and this is separate from the plea agreement with respect to the two main brothers. They are subject to a separate agreement where they agree to forfeit assets around the world that are indirectly or directly related to narcotics trafficking, and they forfeit any assets they may have in the United States whether related in any way to narcotics trafficking.
So we believe that that is a strong penalty, and I might add that if, going forward, there are any additional assets that become discovered, that those will be forfeited as well. So that will be the penalty suffered by the family members.
QUESTION: Does that mean they’re not charged with anything, basically?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: They’re currently not charged with anything. Again, that doesn’t preclude, I think, Alex, the possibility that if additional information became known that possible charges -- maybe I should defer to Alex.
MR. ACOSTA: None of the 28 family members are involved with narcotics trafficking. We have agreed to not pursue obstruction and money laundering charges against six of the children. That would be for activities that were not narcotics trafficking activities but simply obstruction.
In return for that, the 28 family members are agreeing to surrender all assets in the United States whether or not linked to narcotics proceeds, as well as all assets throughout the world that are linked to narcotics proceeds.
QUESTION: Mr. Attorney General, to whom will these assets be forfeited? I thought I understood the Ambassador to be saying that Colombia would be receiving some of this. How do you make that decision?
And can any of you say why -- and this sounds an odd thing to say, but why is only $2 billion, given the size of their fortune?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: As to the second question, I’ll ask Adam to respond to that. The simple answer to your first question is it depends where the assets or the proceeds are found. Most of it will probably be -- a substantial amount of it will probably be in Colombia, and so those assets will go to Colombia. Those assets found in the United States will go to the United States. We believe there are additional assets that will be found in the countries of Ecuador and Spain, and so those countries would receive those assets. So that would be a simple response.
QUESTION: And, I’m sorry, what’s here? Money and bank accounts, mostly?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Again, that’s still being assessed. I think it’s probably going to be bank accounts, maybe life insurance policies. Looking at the -- and the reason, the reason why those assets may seem small in comparison to what you find in Colombia is because these criminals have learned that if you have assets in the United States, you’re likely to lose them. And that’s why those assets are small today.
MR. ACOSTA: To add to what the Attorney General said, as the Attorney General said, this is the final and fatal blow to the Cali Cartel. Prior to this, we have prosecuted 105 individuals associated with the Cali Cartel, and that included prior prosecutions, prior forfeitures.
The $2.1 billion forfeiture that was adjudicated this morning is the result of the Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers admitting to the trafficking of more than 200,000 kilos of cocaine in court this morning. We believe that a $2.1 billion forfeiture is more than sufficient to cover the remaining assets of the Cali Cartel, both those that are currently identified in the form of various financial assets that the Attorney General alluded to, as well as what other assets may be discovered whether in the United States or throughout the world.
QUESTION: This may be a question for the administrator. Obviously, this is a huge achievement for the agencies after such a long investigation, but as you dismantled this organization has the supply of cocaine in the U.S. gone up, down, or stayed the same from these successor organizations?
MR. WALTERS: The effort we use from multiple agencies to assess the overall production and flow suggests that the effort to reduce the cultivation has been successful in Colombia, a significant drop in the overall output from the Andes in cultivation of cocaine.
We are still, obviously, victims, as Colombia is, of cocaine trafficking. It’s been taken over by some smaller, less powerful trafficking groups, some of the armed, right-wing paramilitaries that have now been demobilized and are awaiting final adjudication, action, some of whom are subject to charges in the United States, and the left-wing FARC, as it was mentioned earlier, many of whose leaders have been indicted in the United States.
So we are continuing to press this. The amount of cocaine that was available -- this is subsequent to the Cali Cartel but before today, through the expansion of cultivation done by these successor groups in the mid-‘90s is substantially lower today than it was at its peak, but we continue to do efforts at both interdiction, eradication on the supply side, as well as dismantling these organizations.
So there are signs of less availability, but the players have changed in the 15 years since this investigation has started. Against the new players, we are making progress.
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Before we take any more questions, we’d like -- I’d like to give the representative from Treasury OFAC an opportunity to say a few words.
MR. SZUBIN: Thank you. I’m Adam Szubin, the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department.
Today’s agreements represent government at its best. By combining the financial sanctions powers of the Treasury Department with the law enforcement and criminal authorities of those on this stage and working closely with our partners in Colombia, we have crippled, as you have heard, what was one of the most notorious and dangerous drug cartels in the world.
Today’s agreement also brings into sharp relief the power of financial sanctions. Since 1995, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control or OFAC has relentlessly pursued Colombian drug cartels using Executive Order 12978 to designate and freeze the U.S.-controlled assets of over 100,200 companies and individuals. We have focused in particular on the notorious Cali Cartel, designating over 700 entities and people that were operating as fronts for Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela.
The heart of this financial network was the Colombian drugstore chain Drogas La Rebaja as well as pharmaceutical laboratories like Pharmacoup, which allowed the Rodriguez-Orejeulas to launder their narcotics proceeds while also providing an ostensibly legitimate source of income for them and their families. For ten years, the OFAC investigators have pursued the Rodriguez-Orejeulas’ dirty assets around the world, uncovering new front companies in Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, and six other countries, as the family attempted to mask its financial trails and circumvent our sanctions.
The impact of these sanctions has been dramatic. When OFAC designates a person or company, any assets held by a U.S. person or bank anywhere in the world must be frozen. Trade with or through the United States is cut off. And, even more importantly, Colombian businesses and banks have followed suit, severing all ties with entities that OFAC has listed. And Colombian authorities have frequently been able to act against designated companies and properties as well, as they did in the massive forfeiture action against Drogas La Rebaja.
Indeed, in Colombia, being designated by OFAC is referred to as muerte civil or civil death. This unrelenting pressure was a key prompt of today’s agreements. In a separate agreement, as you’ve heard, 28 designated family members of the Rodriguez-Orejuela family have agreed to forfeit their interests in all narcotics-related entities worldwide, including the hundreds of entities designated by OFAC since 1995.
They have also committed to assist U.S. and Colombian authorities in any future forfeiture actions. If the 28 Rodriguez-Ore Eula family members fully comply with the terms of this agreement and meet all terms of removal, we will work to remove them from OFAC’s list. Any future dealings with narcotics traffickers including on behalf of the two still designated Rodriguez-Ore Eula brothers will land them back on our list.
Today’s outcome is a success. Two dangerous drug lords are headed to prison, and their once-powerful financial empire has been dismantled. This result is a team effort in every sense of the word, and we extend our deep appreciation to our dedicated colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Miami and New York, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Departments of Homeland Security and State, and in the Colombian government. I want to extend a special thanks to our exceptional narcotics team at OFAC.
QUESTION: Yes. First, would all those 28 relatives be allowed to travel back and forth to the United States?
Second question is what happens with all the companies that are currently on that list? Are they removed from the list? Will they have to go through a process? Are many companies in Colombia and abroad on that list?
And third, Administrator Tandy was saying that the FARC wanted to avoid running the to save face as the Rodriguez-Orejeulas. Are there are contacts with them? Is there any type of process going on with the FARC leadership?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: I’ll take the first one. We’ll be working with the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department regarding the access of the 28 family members into the United States, so that’s something that remains to be worked out.
MR. SZUBIN: In terms of de-listings, these assets will all remain on our list until they are forfeited or divested to the relevant authorities. So these will remain frozen until they are turned over.
MS. TANDY: The FARC, as I said, has been indicted. Its entire leadership has been indicted here in the United States. Two of its principal leaders, one commander as well as one of the financiers for the FARC are in the United States in court facing their own form of justice as the Cali Cartel received today.
QUESTION: But do you expect a similar agreement with them as you agreed with the Rodriguez-Orejeulas?
MS. TANDY: I expect that every cartel, whether it was Medellin, Cali, Norte de Valle, and the FARC will reach the same fate as the Ore Eula brothers.
QUESTION: No contacts with the leadership in Colombia?
MS. TANDY: That’s all I have to say about that. We’re following the system. They’ve been charged. We’re going after them, and they’ll be here one day, I am sure.
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Other questions? Yes.
QUESTION: On the subject of the national intelligence estimate, will there be an investigation into how that was leaked? And what impact do you think this will have on your role with the jihadists that information about this has come to light?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: It’s too early to tell with respect to the second part of your question. In terms of whether or not there will be an investigation, as you know, we normally don’t confirm from the podium whether or not there is an investigation by the Department.
We have a standard procedure in place that is followed with respect to leaks of classified information, and I suspect that that standard procedure will be followed in this case as it is in virtually every other case. So we’ll have to wait and see.
QUESTION: Can you estimate the total drug -- illegal drug profit by the cartel from 1991 until today?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: John.
MR. WALTERS: You could create a crude estimate. We don’t have a precise figure. Actually, for the -- we have more precision in some of the actions of the Cali members because they were -- some of them were -- some of them that are sentenced today were control freaks and insisted on accounting and being directly involved in that. So we have information from some of these investigations that was undoubtedly part of this trial as well as others about what they were actually moving.
But if you try to get an aggregate estimate of -- we know over that period of time how much was moved. We have a rough estimate of how much they were responsible for, but whether they got the wholesale or the retail price can radically change the rates of inflation.
At the time, they were -- various estimates are between half and 80 percent over the time when they were the strongest. But, again, those are estimates and -- so we do the best we can, but I want to warn you against high precision in this. They don’t submit a tax return.
QUESTION: A crude estimate would be?
MR. WALTERS: Well, again, what was happening 15 years ago and subsequent, it would have been between 50 and 80 percent, as a crude estimate of the cocaine flowing between them and the -- largely the Medellin Cartel. There were some smaller players at the time, but -- and I don’t remember what the aggregate estimate of total flow to the United States was at that time. We can try to get that for you.
There are reports that do those estimates. But, again, if you do how much they actually made at the wholesale level versus what was retailed into the United States, you get significantly different numbers because the price is higher at the smaller retail level.
QUESTION: What’s -- I mean what’s the range? What are we talking about as a range?
MR. WALTERS: Well, the estimates were, at that time, I think, between 500 and 700, 800 metric tons. That’s 1,000 kilos a ton, and I think a kilo -- I don’t know, at that time.
Are people here from DEA? Does anyone remember exactly what a kilo was going for about ten years ago? I don’t remember.
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Listen, we’ll look into that. We’ll try to give you -- we obviously don’t have it. We’re struggling with that, so we’ll get that for you.
MODERATOR: Two more questions.
QUESTION: Besides the $2.1 million that they decided to turn into the authorities, did they agree to cooperate with the Justice in other processes against other cartels?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: The agreement does not require them to cooperate in other investigations. The level of cooperation extends to the identification of assets. That was the deal reached.
QUESTION: The history of breaking down big cartels like the Medellin Cartel is that you have then a hundred little cartels that are even more efficient. What is the plan to deal with those?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Julie, you want to --
MS. MYERS: Okay. Well, the plan to deal with the successors to the Cali Cartel is to use the same innovative techniques and partnerships that we’ve done in this case, to work with the DEA, with OFAC, to go after where we see the strong players in this area. Right now it’s the Norte de Valle Cartel, the FARC.
Administrator Tandy has identified some of the steps we’ve taken there. I think we can see from this investigation how, even though it spanned 15 years, they changed techniques, you know, put it in frozen broccoli, put it in ceramic tiles, you know, operating from jail cells, but law enforcement continued. And that’s what we’ll do for smaller cartels or for big cartels is we’ll work together as a group to dismantle these.
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Okay. One more question.
QUESTION: General Gonzales, can you tell use when you’re expecting this -- two big bills on Capitol Hill, the detainee legislation, are you going to give us a -- and can you clear up some confusion on the NSA from Senators Craig and Murkowski -- who put out a statement saying that the administration had agreed in a word to conduct electronic surveillance of U.S. persons, a court order of warrant is necessary. Has the administration agreed to that, and wouldn’t that in effect put an end to the program that the President acknowledged?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, these are two very important programs, two important pieces of legislation. That is important as far as the President is concerned to continue to fight effectively the war on terror. And we certainly hope that we can get something -- both pieces of legislation passed this week, and we understand there are challenges given the legislative calendar, but they’re very important, and we continue to hope that Congress will be able to pass the legislation this week.
The -- what the President has said with respect to TSP is that he wanted additional authorities granted by Congress to support that program, and I think that the compromise that has been reached achieves that objective with the option of looking at individual court orders, moving from approval of a program to specific court orders. I think that option is in there. And it also provides for an avenue for the President to submit a program to a court for adjudication of the constitutionality of the program.
And so I think that’s the current state of play. But, you know, this is something that is changing, and so it changes hourly, daily, in terms of what legislation is actually going to look like. What the President has said -- what he wants to see with respect to TSP is additional authority granted by the Congress to support that program.
QUESTION: Is it then wrong to say, as the Republican Senator said yesterday that the administration has agreed that it will seek a warrant any time it wants to listen in on the conversations of a U.S. person?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, again, I think the legislation that’s currently in play allows for a program, again, with the option of submitting the -- the option of looking to -- turning that program into individual requests for specific court orders. So I can’t get any more specific than that.
QUESTION: Ambassador, you read that statement, but may I ask you, in your own words, to describe for us what kind of hold the Cali Cartel had on Colombia in the 1990s and what this -- the resolution of this means for Colombia?
AMBASSADOR BARCO: I spoke and I read a statement by our Attorney General because in Colombia the Attorney General’s Office is independent from the Executive. It’s part of the judicial system. So this is why I am here to represent the judicial system, and that’s why I read this statement, because he wanted to express his agreement and satisfaction with the kind of collaboration that we had and the cooperation in which Colombia was involved throughout the process and was able to ensure that both our Constitutions, the terms of our extradition agreements were all taken into account so that Colombia’s judicial system was represented in what was an American decision.
I’m not an expert then, as you can imagine, on the cartel. All I can say is that, for Colombia, the drug problem has been its major challenge, and we have been fighting this since the 1980s with great conviction and at great cost. As I said, we’ve lost many lives: presidential candidates, prosecutors, governors; and it has meant that the country has had to hold together to fight these cartels.
As a Colombian, I think we all need to continue to speak out to what drug trafficking means to any country because it is that terrible combination of incredible amounts of money, which breed corruption, and incredible amounts of violence that are entailed in this -- in the illegal drug trafficking, which puts great, great pressure on any democracy and on any institution.
So Colombia will continue to fight for its democracy. We will continue to fight for a right to a peaceful country because this money also helps to finance terrorism in my country. We will continue to fight for values that have to do with honest work and not values that are associated to fast money and drug trafficking. And so Colombia will continue to speak out and will continue to fight with zero tolerance for drugs, and will stay committed and continue in this kind of collaboration with the United States.
And we want to work also very closely with our neighbors. We’ve gotten very involved with the Caribbean, with Central America, sharing information, seeking to help them with security. We want to keep our region also away from this problem, and we feel that Colombia has to give an example, and speak out, and play a role. Thank you.ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Thank you all.