Ill Cali cartel drug kingpin seeks early prison release
06 Feb 2020

AP – Although not as notorious as Pablo Escobar and the Medellin cartel, Rodriguez-Orejuela and his brother, Miguel, fashioned a sophisticated global smuggling enterprise known for using innovative techniques to hide cocaine in all sorts of legitimate shipments — even such items as frozen vegetables and coffee packages.

Officials estimate they smuggled at least 200 tons (181,000 kilograms) of the drug into the U.S. during the 1990s, or about 80% of the nation’s supply at the time.

Federal prosecutors oppose the release of Rodriguez-Orejuela, contending he has gotten good medical treatment in a North Carolina prison and does not deserve to get out. They cite the huge scope of his crimes.

“Releasing Rodriguez-Orejuela early jeopardizes public safety by diminishing the seriousness of his offense and would send entirely the wrong message about leading such a large scale drug trafficking (operation) and the punishment that must come with it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Hirsch said in court papers.

At a hearing Wednesday, Miami U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno said he would consider the request but wanted more information on Rodriguez-Orejuela’s health, details of his activities in prison and background on the criminal case. Moreno asked for that information within 30 days.

Under the brothers’ 2006 plea deal, more than two dozen family members were removed from a Treasury Department list designating them as part of the Cali cartel. That spared some of them from prosecution for obstruction of justice or money laundering, and also allowed legitimate family businesses in Colombia to continue operating.

By Curt Anderson, AP, 6 February 2020

Read more at the Associated Press

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