LAWFUEL – Legal News, Legal Jobs Network – MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announced today the guilty pleas of GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA, brothers and the leaders of the notorious Cali Cartel in Colombia, to money-laundering charges. Under the terms of a plea agreement with the United States Government, the RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA brothers previously pleaded guilty to an Indictment filed in the Southern District of Florida (the “SDFL Indictment”) charging them with importing tons of cocaine into the United States. The agreement also called for the brothers to plead guilty to an Indictment initially filed in the Southern District of New York (the “SDNY Indictment”) charging them with money-laundering crimes. The guilty pleas to the SDNY Indictment were entered today before Judge FEDERICO A. MORENO of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
As alleged in both the SDNY and the SDFL Indictments, GILBERTO and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA once controlled a powerful Colombian narcotics-trafficking organization based in Cali, Colombia (the “Cali Cartel”). In their previous guilty pleas to the SDFL Indictment, the defendants admitted to importing more than 200 tons of cocaine into the United States for resale.
As alleged in the SDNY 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 millions of dollars of the Cali Cartel’s cocaine proceeds in ostensibly legitimate companies, including companies involved in the production and sale of pharmaceutical drugs. Although GILBERTO 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 protect their illicit assets from seizure by law enforcement authorities. As part of their efforts at concealment, the RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA brothers 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 defendants.
On October 21, 1995, President 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; applied economic sanctions against, among others, GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA; and delegated the enforcement and regulation of the economic sanctions to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (“OFAC”).
Based on the continuing threat posed to the United States by significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia, on about October 19, 2001, President 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 and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA and against other criminal associates of the Cali Cartel.
As charged in the SDNY 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 and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA, with the assistance of others, established “new” or “re-organized” companies to replace the previously-sanctioned companies. In fact, these “new” or “re-organized” companies simply assumed the assets and continued to perform the services of the previously sanctioned companies and often had the same management and physical business locations. After the “new” or “re-organized” companies were formed to protect their assets and to evade OFAC sanctions, GILBERTO and MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA then named additional family members and trusted associates who had not been sanctioned by OFAC to manage the companies. Between about March 2002 and January 2003, the RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA brothers were involved in transferring approximately $1.5 million in funds controlled by pharmaceutical drug companies through bank accounts in New York, New York.
Immediately following their guilty pleas today, Judge MORENO sentenced GILBERTO and MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ-OREJUELA, 67 and 62 years old, respectively, to 87 months’ imprisonment on the money-laundering charges, to run concurrently with the sentence of 360 months’ imprisonment he previously imposed on the cocaine-trafficking charges in the SDFL Indictment.
The charges in the SDNY Indictment 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 United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), OFAC, the Colombian National Police (“CNP”), and the Colombian Fiscalia Money Laundering Section.
Mr. GARCIA praised the investigative efforts of the DEA, OFAC, the CNP, and the Colombian Fiscalia Money Laundering Section and thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida for its cooperation in this matter.
Operation Dynasty is being prosecuted by the Office’s International Narcotics Trafficking Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys BOYD M. JOHNSON III, GLEN G. MCGORTY, and KEVIN R. PUVALOWSKI are in charge of the prosecution.
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 http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/.