The Orejuela Brothers
Gilberto and Miguel Orejuela turned drug trafficking into a multi-billion dollar family business. The brothers led the Cali Cartel in the 1970s, which started out with marijuana trafficking and expanded to coke in the ’80s. In its heyday, the Cali Cartel controlled 90 percent of the global coke market, pioneered trafficking routes through Panama, and moved drug operation out of Columbia to Peru and Bolivia.
Unlike the Medellin Cartel, the Cali Cartel depended on bribery versus violence against the Columbian government, but that didn’t stop authorities from taking them down. Police formed a special task force commissioned to destroy the Cali Cartel.
Gilberto was arrested in June 1995, two months after his brother, Miguel. He was captured hiding in a secret compartment built inside a house bathroom cabinet and sentenced to 15 years. 2002 brought on a temporary release, but Gilberto was sent right back to jail in March 2003 and extradited to the U.S. where he remains.
Miguel was extradited to the U.S. in 2005. He and Gilberto were sentenced to 30 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine into the U.S. They settled on the deal in exchange for the legal immunity of nearly 30 family members.