WASHINGTON, D.C. – 11 March 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, U.S. Attorneys Marcos
Daniel Jiménez of the Southern District of Florida and David N. Kelley of the
Southern District of New York, DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy and Michael J.
Garcia, the Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced today that Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela has been extradited from Colombia to the United States to face narcotics
trafficking and money laundering charges.
Rodriguez-Orejuela, one of the alleged leaders and founders of the infamous Cali
Cartel, arrived in Miami today. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance
before a United States Magistrate Judge in Miami on Monday.
Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela and his brother, Gilberto, are charged in an indictment
returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida with
conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute
cocaine, and conspiracy to launder drug proceeds. The Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers
are also named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern
District of New York, charging them with a separate money laundering conspiracy.
Ten other defendants are named in the Miami indictments, along with the
Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers. Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela was extradited to the
United States in December 2004. The brothers are named in the Attorney General’s
Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) list.
The charges pending against Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela in Miami are the
result of a multi-year investigation in the Southern District of Florida known as
“Operation Cornerstone.” The investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security, with assistance from the Drug
Enforcement Administration. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program
(HIDTA) was supportive and instrumental in this case. Colombian law enforcement
officials also cooperated in the investigation. The charges pending against Miguel
and Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela in the Southern District of New York are the
results of a joint Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)
investigation called “Operation Dynasty,” which involved the U.S. Attorney’s Office
for the Southern District of New York, the DEA, the Department of the Treasury’s
Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Colombian National Police, and the Colombian
Fiscalìa Money Laundering Section. The extradition was assisted by the Office of
International Affairs, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice.
“Operation Cornerstone” has resulted in the seizure of almost 50,000 kilograms of
cocaine and $15 million in U.S. 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. “Operation Dynasty” targets the
numerous Colombian front companies, including companies involved in the production
and sale of pharmaceutical drugs, that the Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers are alleged
to have used to launder the Cali Cartel’s illicit fortune.
In addition to the criminal charges, the Miami indictment seeks the forfeiture of
$2.1 billion, which represents money received in exchange for and used to
facilitate the distribution of controlled substances and the amount of money
involved in the money laundering conspiracy. The Southern District of New York
indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation in the amount of $1 billion.
“Drug traffickers everywhere are on notice that they can no longer use geography or
the passage of time to evade justice,” said Marcos Daniel Jiménez, U.S. Attorney
for the Southern District of Florida. “The extraditions of Miguel
Rodriguez-Orejuela and of his brother last December come after years of hard work
by prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida and our law enforcement
partners. Without their unyielding courage and tireless dedication, this day would
not be a reality.”
“The most effective way to dismantle international narcotics organizations and to
deter new organizations from forming is to destroy their ability to profit from
their poison,” said David N. Kelley, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New
York. “This successful extradition not only ensures that the leadership of the
Cali Cartel will not enjoy the vast sums of money that they made in the drug
business, but it also demonstrates to all traffickers – past, present and future –
that the United States and Colombia will tenaciously investigate and prosecute any
and all attempts to launder illicit narcotics proceeds.”
“This is a great day for U.S. and Colombian citizens,” said DEA Administrator Karen
P. Tandy. “Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela will now face justice in a U.S. court of law
where he will answer to American citizens who suffered from his relentless
poisoning of our neighborhoods. This extradition demonstrates drug kingpins can
try to legitimize and launder their billions of dollars of dirty drug money, but
law enforcement will reveal these criminal undertakings for what they are and will
put them out of business permanently.”
“For years, the Cali cartel leaders thought they could operate beyond the reach of
U.S. law enforcement. Today’s extradition once again demonstrates the end of that
era. I am extremely proud of the ICE agents in Miami and Colombia who investigated
this case with their law enforcement counterparts for so many years,” said Michael
J. Garcia, Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the
Department of Homeland Security.
The charges contained in the indictments are merely allegations. All defendants
are presumed innocent until and unless convicted in a court of law.