Cali cartel drugs baron arrested

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The Independent Online
PHIL DAVISON

Latin America Correspondent

They called him "The Chess Player", a banker who turned the so-called Cali cartel into the world's biggest supplier of cocaine. Last night, Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, 56, one of two brothers who run the cartel, was behind bars in Cali, in south-west Colombia.

It was the biggest anti-narcotics breakthrough for the Colombian government since Pablo Escobar, leader of the rival Medellin cartel, was tracked down and shot while trying to flee in 1993. His death crushed the Medellin cartel, notorious for its terrorist bombings, but the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers moved in to monopolise the cocaine business.

Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela have also been indicted in cocaine- trafficking cases in the United States, including one in Miami this week which led to the arrest of several prominent US lawyers. But Colombian law prevents their extradition.

Miguel is thought to be still in hiding in the Cali area.

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