9 March – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander Acost…

9 March – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced that defendant, William Rodriguez-Abadia, pled guilty before United States District Court Judge Federico A. Moreno to his involvement in a wide-ranging cocaine importation conspiracy that existed from 1990 to July 2002.

William Rodriguez-Abadia was one of the leaders of the infamous Cali Drug Cartel. He is the son of Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela and the nephew of Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela, who are the alleged founders of the Cali Cartel. Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela are set for trial in September 2006 before United States District Court Judge Federico A. Moreno.

Under the terms of the plea agreement filed with the Court, Rodriguez-Abadia has agreed to cooperate with the United States and to testify at trial against his father Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela and his uncle Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela. Rodriguez-Abadia has also agreed to forfeit his right, title, and interest in all Rodriguez-Orejuela business entities in Colombia. Such business entities, which were financed with narcotics proceeds, have an estimated market value of $300 million. The plea agreement also contains a joint recommendation by the United States and Rodriguez-Abadia that Rodriguez-Abadia be sentenced to 262 months’ imprisonment.

According to the factual proffer read by an Assistant United States Attorney at the plea hearing, Rodriguez-Abadia, beginning in 1995, coinciding with the arrest of his father, Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela, and at his father’s request, began to run various aspects of the Cali cartel, an international drug syndicate directed for many years by his father and his uncle, Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela.

In particular, Rodriguez-Abadia was placed in charge of administering his father’s portion of the Rodriguez-Orejuela family business enterprises, including: Drogas La Rebaja, S.A., a pharmacy chain of approximately 350 pharmacies in Colombia; Laboratorios Kressfor de Colombia, S.A., a pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Colombia; and various other entities in Colombia. Rodriguez-Abadia helped initiate, develop, implement, and otherwise manage plans to launder and further conceal the Rodriguez-Orejuelas’ drug profits through a variety of schemes involving these business entities.

In addition, according to the proffer, Rodriguez-Abadia was responsible for arranging for, and ensuring the payment of, bribe monies and payoffs to incarcerated cartel employees and their families. These bribes and payoffs were made in an effort to prevent such cartel employees from becoming witnesses against Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela and Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela.

According to in-court statements by the prosecutor, Rodriguez-Abadia took these actions in concert with, and after consulting with, Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela and Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela in furtherance of a wide-ranging conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States. Rodriguez-Abadia took these actions not only to facilitate the concealment of past drug trafficking activities, but also to facilitate the drug trafficking activities that Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela and Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela were continuing to engage in while at La Picota prison. These drug trafficking activities involved the importation of at least two loads of cocaine, each containing multiple hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, into the United States in 1997 and 1998.

At today’s hearing, the prosecutor also stated in Court that Rodriguez-Abadia’s activities occurred between 1995 and approximately 2001, when the defendant went into hiding due to a request forwarded by the United States government to the Colombian government for his provisional arrest. During this period of his hiding in various places in Colombia, Rodriguez-Abadia continued to reap the benefits of Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela’s and Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela’s drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption activities, as the fruits of this continued criminal activity provided him with the funds to remain in hiding.

The conspiracy to which Rodriguez-Abadia pled guilty today encompasses one of the largest narcotics organizations ever prosecuted in the United States. The amount of cocaine imported and distributed in the United States, the amount of money laundered, and the violence associated with the various members of the Cartel, make the Cali Cartel one of the most prolific and violent organizations ever prosecuted in the United States.

United States Attorney Acosta stated, “The guilty plea of William Rodriguez-Abadia is a major victory in the war against drugs. It is a major blow to and marks the fall of the Cali Cartel. It also sends a signal to all narcotics traffickers that they cannot hide or run from prosecution. The United States Attorney’s Office and our federal law enforcement partners, in this case ICE and DEA, remain focused in our efforts to stop international drug traffickers and the influx of illegal drugs into South Florida.”

In addition, United States Attorney Acosta specifically recognized the hard work and cooperation of the two primary agencies responsible for this monumental investigation and today’s guilty plea. Acosta stated, “Without the collective efforts of the ICE and DEA agents this case could not have been indicted. The agents have sacrificed countless hours of their personal time to ensure that the criminal acts of this trafficking organization were punished to the full extent of the law. It is the behind the scenes work of these men and women that made today’s plea possible.” Acosta also noted that this case would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Colombian authorities.

“Today’s plea is a landmark achievement for U.S. and Colombian law enforcement,” said Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge of ICE in Miami. “This case is a clear reflection of the federal government’s unyielding commitment to combating the drug trade that threatens the security of our homeland. ICE, the DEA, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have been working tirelessly for over a decade to bring these criminals to justice.”

Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration, stated, “I would like to thank our domestic and international law enforcement partners for their efforts in helping us pursue justice regardless of international borders. We have long considered the Cali Cartel one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in operation. It has been a top priority of the DEA to dismantle this organization. Working jointly with ICE, we have achieved this goal.”

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of ICE and DEA. The case is being prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Richard Gregorie, Special Assistant United States Attorney Edward Ryan, Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Axelrod, Assistant United States Attorney Lisa Hirsch, and Assistant United States Attorney Alison Lehr.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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