United States Requests Extradition of Cali Cartel Leaders From Colombia on Money Laundering Charges
MAR 4—DAVID N. KELLEY, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, ANTHONY PLACIDO, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and RICHARD NEWCOMB, the Director of the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), announced today the unsealing of a two-count Indictment and the filing of extradition affidavits requesting that the Colombian government extradite GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA, the leaders of the notorious Cali Cartel, to New York on money-laundering charges. The Indictment charges the RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELAs with money-laundering and conspiracy charges in connection with their efforts to insulate more than $1 billion in narcotics proceeds derived from the notorious Cali Cartel from law enforcement detection and seizure.
As alleged in the Indictment, from at least 1982, GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA controlled a powerful Colombian narcotics-trafficking organization based in Cali, Colombia (the “Cali Cartel”). As alleged in the Indictment, by the defendants’ own admissions, during this time period, the Cali Cartel transported and sold approximately 30,000 kilograms of cocaine, generating an illicit fortune worth in excess of $1 billion.
As alleged in the Indictment, in order to insulate the illicit fortune of the Cali Cartel from law enforcement detection and seizure, GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA, MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and their criminal associates invested the Cali Cartel’s illicit fortune derived from the drug trade in ostensibly legitimate companies, including companies involved in the production and sale of pharmaceutical drugs. Although GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA were initially identified in public documents in Colombia as partners in several of the companies, they subsequently attempted to conceal their continuing ownership and control of these companies to insulate their illicit assets from seizure by law enforcement authorities, it was charged. As part of their efforts at concealment, GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA allegedly arranged for their companies to be held under the names of family members or trusted associates when, in fact, the companies continued to be controlled by the 3 defendants.
As alleged in the Indictment, on about October 21,1995, President William Jefferson Clinton, pursuant to the authority granted by, among other things, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, Sections 1701 to 1706 of Title 50 of the United States Code, signed Executive Order 12978, entitled “Blocking Assets and Prohibiting Transactions with Significant Narcotics Traffickers.” In the Order, President Clinton declared a national emergency based on the threat posed to the United States by significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia and applied economic sanctions against, among others, GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA, and delegated the enforcement and the regulation of the economic sanctions to the Treasury Department’s OFAC.
Based on the continuing threat posed to the United States by significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia, on or about October 16, 2001, President George W. Bush continued the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12978. From October 21, 1995 to the present, OFAC has persisted in applying economic sanctions against numerous companies effectively controlled by GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and against other criminal associates of the Cali Cartel.
As charged in the Indictment, between about October 21, 1995, and the present, in an attempt to protect their assets and to evade OFAC sanctions, and in violation of United States law, GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA, MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA, and their associates removed their names from companies that had been sanctioned by OFAC. In addition, after the companies themselves were subsequently sanctioned by OFAC, GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA, with the assistance of others, established “new” or “re-organized” companies from the previously-sanctioned companies, it was charged. In fact, these “new” or “re-organized” companies simply assumed the assets and continued to perform the services of previously sanctioned companies and often had the same management and physical business locations as previously-sanctioned companies. After the “new” or “re-organized” companies were formed to protect their assets and to evade OFAC sanctions, GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA then named additional family members and trusted associates who had not been sanctioned by OFAC to manage the companies, according to the charges.
The charges were the result of a joint Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation entitled “Operation Dynasty” which involved the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the DEA, OFAC, the Colombian National Police (“CNP”), and the Colombian Fiscalia Money Laundering Section.
If convicted of all the money-laundering and conspiracy charges in the indictment, the RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELAs face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. In addition, the defendants face forfeiture of $1 billion, representing the illicit fortune generated by the Cali Cartel’s narcotics-trafficking and money-laundering crimes.
Assistant United States Attorneys RICHARD SULLIVAN, BOYD M. JOHNSON III and KEVIN R. PUVALOSKI are in charge of the prosecution.