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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 06:34 GMT
Colombian druglord faces US jail
By Jeremy McDermott
BBC correspondent in Medellin

Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela in March 2003
Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela was re-arrested in March 2003
Colombia's Supreme Court has authorised the extradition of one of the former heads of the Cali drug cartel.

Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela may make a final appeal against the judgement, but legal experts are certain he will be unable to escape prison in the US.

At the time he was at its helm, the Cali cartel was the richest and most powerful crime syndicate in the world.

Rodriguez Orejuela was known as "the chess player" for his ability to out-wit and out-manoeuvre his opponents.

But this time, it seems, he is firmly in his pursuers' grasp.

Cocaine trade

The US authorities have been trying to get their hands on the two Rodriguez Orejuela brothers - Gilberto and his younger brother Miguel - for over 15 years.

Then they headed the Cali drug cartel, responsible for smuggling hundreds of tons of cocaine onto the American mainland.

But when they were finally arrested in 1995, extradition had been temporarily banned, so neither brother could be sent abroad.

Instead they were sentenced to prison in Colombia.

But the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) worked tirelessly to build a case against the men, showing that they continued to run their criminal empire from prison after 1997, when extradition was again added to the Colombian statute book.

Now in his 60s, Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, once one of the richest men in the world, looks set to spend the rest of his life in an American prison.


SEE ALSO:
Ask Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe
04 Nov 04  |  Have Your Say
US goes after Cali cocaine bosses
24 Dec 03  |  Americas
Colombian baron re-arrested
13 Mar 03  |  Americas
Colombian drugs baron walks free
08 Nov 02  |  Americas
Q&A: US involvement in Colombia
24 Apr 02  |  Americas
Country profile: Colombia
12 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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