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4 December 2004 – LAWFUEL – First for law, legal, criminal law news …

4 December 2004 – LAWFUEL – First for law, legal, criminal law news – Attorney General John Ashcroft; Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for
the Southern District of Florida; Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge,
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and Robert J. Joura, Acting Special
Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced today that
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe signed the final order of extradition for Gilberto
Rodriguez-Orejuela, requiring his extradition from Colombia to Miami, Florida.
Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela faces narcotics trafficking and money laundering
charges in the Southern District of Florida, where a four-count Superseding
Indictment is pending against him and ten (10) other named defendants, including
his brother, Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela, both of whom are named in the Attorney
General’s Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) list, and are the
alleged leaders and founders of the infamous Cali Cartel.

Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela is scheduled to be extradited from Colombia to Miami
and to make an initial appearance in federal district court in Miami on Monday,
December 6, 2004. The charges pending against Gilberto and Miguel
Rodriguez-Orejuela are the result of a fourteen (14) year investigation in the
Southern District of Florida known as “Operation Cornerstone,” which began in 1991.
Since 1996, the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of
Florida has sought the extradition of Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela. ICE led the
investigation resulting in the extradition of Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela, with
assistance from the DEA. Colombian law enforcement officials also cooperated in
the investigation.

“Operation Cornerstone” has resulted in the seizure of almost 50,000 kilograms of
cocaine and $15,000,000 in United States currency. Prior to the initial Indictment
in this case, almost 100 other defendants, including some of the defendants’
criminal defense attorneys, were successfully prosecuted during the course of the
investigation.

All of the defendants named in the Superseding Indictment are charged with
conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute
cocaine. Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela and five (5) other defendants are
charged with conspiracy to launder money. If convicted on the conspiracy drug
trafficking charges, the defendants would face a maximum
statutory sentence of life imprisonment on each count. If convicted on the
conspiracy money laundering charge, the defendants named in that count would face a
maximum statutory sentence of twenty (20) years’ imprisonment.

The Superseding Indictment seeks the forfeiture of two billion, one hundred million
dollars in United States currency ($2,100,000,000), which represents moneys
received in exchange for and used to facilitate the distribution of controlled
substances and the amount of money involved in the money laundering conspiracy.

“Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela is alleged to have trafficked in illegal drugs that
tear at the fabric of society and draw the innocent away from safe and productive
lives,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “Those who violate federal drug laws
should never believe that drug trafficking from outside our borders puts them
beyond the reach of justice. Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement officers
both here and abroad, Rodriguez-Orejuela will now stand trial for his actions.”

Mr. Jiménez stated, “This is a watershed moment in our nation’s war against drugs.
Our prosecution puts drug traffickers on notice that no matter where they are or
who they are, they will eventually be brought to justice. After more than a decade
of hard work, I am extremely proud that our prosecutors in the Southern District of
Florida and our law enforcement partners made this day a reality.”

“At one time, Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela and his organization were believed to be
responsible for about 80 percent of the cocaine shipped to the United States, as
well as countless murders and a reign of terror in Colombia. Today, Gilberto is
under arrest in the United States, where he ranks as arguably the highest-level
drug trafficking figure to ever occupy a U.S. prison cell. This unprecedented
accomplishment represents the culmination of a 14-year investigation by ICE agents
in Miami and Colombia, in conjunction with Colombian law enforcement and the DEA,”
said Michael J. Garcia, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“The extradition of Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela marks the beginning of the end of
another chapter of the United States and Colombia’s war against narcotraffickers,”
said Mr. Joura. “Despite having been incarcerated since 1995, Gilberto
Rodriguez-Orejuela has continued to wield significant influence among cocaine
trafficking organizations in that country. His extradition is a tribute to the
resolve of the Government of Colombia and the effort of US authorities.”

A press conference will be held at the Second Floor Media Room of the Office of the
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida on Monday, December 6
at 2:30 p.m. The Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of
Florida is located at 99 N.E. 4th Street in Miami. Mr. Jiménez commended the
investigative efforts of ICE and DEA. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant
United States Attorney Laurence Bardfeld of the Southern District of Florida.
Assistant United States Attorneys Edward Ryan and Lisa Hirsch also have
participated in the prosecution of the case.

Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela also were recently indicted in New York on

charges of conspiring to launder money in violation of an executive order. This
executive order was signed by President William J. Clinton in 1995 under the
authority of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The
Rodriguez-Orejuelas were placed on this list as a result of “Operation
Cornerstone.” Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela will be brought first to Miami to face
the charges stemming from “Operation Cornerstone.”

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.