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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 December, 2004, 14:26 GMT
Colombian drug baron extradited
Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela is escorted by Colombian police to an airport in Bogota
Gilberto will be the most powerful Colombian drug lord to face a US court
One of the world's most notorious drug traffickers, Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, has arrived in the US after being extradited from Colombia.

President Alvaro Uribe turned down his final legal appeals, and Rodriguez Orejuela was put on a plane for the US.

Rodriguez Orejuela and his brother, Miguel, ran the Cali drug cartel, which is thought to have controlled 80% of the global cocaine trade in the 1990s.

He is wanted in the US on charges of smuggling and money-laundering.

Rodriguez Orejuela was escorted, handcuffed and wearing a bullet-proof jacket, by heavily armed police to a Bogota airport and handed to US Drug Enforcement Administration officers.

He arrived in Miami early on Saturday.

Long arm of law

The extradition was welcomed by US and Colombian authorities.

Criminals will not find any sanctuary to evade justice
Col Oscar Naranjo
Colombia Judicial Police

"Every day, judicial co-operation between our two countries is becoming more effective and more visible," Col Oscar Naranjo, chief of Colombia's Judicial Police, told the Associated Press news agency.

"This means that the criminals will not find any sanctuary to evade justice," he added.

"Those who violate federal drug laws should never believe that drug trafficking from outside our borders puts them beyond the reach of justice," US Attorney General John Ashcroft said.

The Colombian Supreme Court is still to rule on a request to extradite Miguel.

Powerful syndicate

When Gilberto was at its helm, the Cali cartel was the richest and most powerful crime syndicate in the world, making profits of up to $8bn a year.

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

The US authorities have been trying to get their hands on the brothers for over 15 years.

When Gilberto was arrested in 1995, extraditions had been temporarily banned, so they were sentenced to prison in Colombia.

In 2002, Gilberto was released from prison early for good behaviour.

Four months later he was re-arrested, at which point the US presented its case for extradition

The extradition of 65-year-old Gilberto, once one of the richest men in the world, follows a long investigation by the US authorities.

Watch footage of the extradition

Colombian druglord faces US jail
04 Nov 04 |  Americas
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

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