“Plata o plomo”: Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela will not be dead under the bullets or in the middle of his money. The former drug baron, who has long been considered one of the greatest drug traffickers of the world after the death of Pablo Escobardied at the age of 83 in an American prison.
“We mourn Gilberto’s death last night,” his lawyer, David Oscar Markus, confirmed in an email on Wednesday that did not specify the cause of death. Until his capture in 1995, Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, nicknamed “the Chess Player”, led the powerful Cali cartel with an iron fist. Colombia with his brother Miguel, 78, also incarcerated in a prison in the United States.
A cartel dismantled in the mid-1990s
His rival organization of the Medellin cartel, led by Pablo Escobar, seized the white powder market after the death of the charismatic “King of the cocaine Shot dead by local police in 1993. According to US authorities, the Cali cartel controlled up to 80% of cocaine trafficking to the United States at its peak. It was dismantled in the mid-1990s.
Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Colombia in 1995 after being sentenced to seven years in prison. Arrested again in 2003, he was imprisoned in Colombia until extradited to the United States United States in December 2004. He and his brother were sentenced to 30 years in prison each for importing 200 tons of cocaine into the United States. The two brothers eventually became a global celebrity with the series Narcos of Netflixwhich featured in particular their rivalry with Pablo Escobar.
A preference for bribes
Gilberto and his brother had made a name for themselves among the economic and political elites in Colombia. Unlike Pablo Escobar, who offered a reward in exchange for every policeman killed, the Cali Cartel brothers preferred bribes. The Rodríguez family also controlled America de Cali, the football club with the most victories at the time, as well as horse breeding and beauty queen competitions.
In the last years of his life, the “chess player” from a modest family, who had started his life on his bike as a home deliveryman, was seriously ill. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and colon cancer. He also suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. His family had tried in vain several remedies for the drug trafficker to spend his last days in Colombia.