CALI COCAINE CARTEL. Over 20 years ago, Colombian drug trafficker Carlos Lehder-Rivas* convinced some Medellín, Colombia, area traffickers to pool their drug shipments, thus cutting their individual chances of financial ruin if a single shipment was seized. The method brought the traffickers profits beyond their dreams and led to the foundation of the Medellín cartel.
A similar federation of traffickers was formed in the city of Cali, some 200 miles south of Medellfn. The Cali mafia grew from a small criminal gang founded in the early 1970s by Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela* and José Santacruz- Londono.* The gang originally confined themselves to counterfeiting and kidnapping, but gradually expanded into the smuggling of cocaine base from Peru and Bolivia to Colombia for conversion into cocaine. The group evolved into a loose association of five major independent drug trafficking organizations now called the Cali mafia.
The Cali mafia leaders directed a vast global network of cocaine production, transportation, wholesale distribution, and money laundering operations. They shared certain resources when their interests coincided. The member organizations were the Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers; José Santacruz-Londono (deceased); Helmer Herrera-Buitrago*; the Urdinola-Grajales brothers; and the Grajales- Lemos and Grajales-Posso organization.
Cali drug traffickers export hundreds of tons of cocaine into the United States annually and launder billions of dollars in drug proceeds. Their drug money initially meant economic boom for that city of 2 million residents, and the Cali mafia operated with virtual impunity for over 15 years. Their tactics of intimidation and corruption caused bribed officials to overlook illegal activities. One Cali businessman was quoted anonymously in the Los Angeles Times ( 1985), to say Cali had become "a sewer of corruption and violence. The narco-traffickers have taken over. They control businesses, politics, everything."
When the Colombian government took an antidrug stance in the mid- to late
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Publication information: Book title: Encyclopedia of Organized Crime in the United States:From Capone's Chicago to the New Urban Underworld. Contributors: Robert J. Kelly - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 43.
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