April 11, 2021

Former drug lord Gilberto Rodríguez calls for early release in the US by COVID-19

Colombian Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, one of the great drug lords in the 90s, asked to be released from the North Carolina prison (USA) where he is serving a 30-year sentence, claiming that he was not sentenced to death and if still there may succumb to the coronavirus.

David Markus, an attorney for Rodríguez Orejuela, 81, made that request this week to the South Florida District Court, according to the court record.

Markus noted that while the authorities’ response to his client’s early release requests may lead one to think that Butner’s Jail is the safest place in North Carolina in the face of the pandemic, the reality is that “prisons are literally the worst place. “

“The guards and employees are still entering the prison and if some of them spread the virus, which is inevitable, sick, vulnerable and older prisoners like Gilberto will probably die,” the lawyer said in his petition.

Markus is accompanying the request for data on the spread of the coronavirus in North Carolina, forecasts by epidemiologists and a statement from an organization of prosecutors about the dangers of the virus in prisoners, among other supporting documents.

“At 81 years old and with serious health problems, Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela is at a very high risk (…) of contracting the virus,” he adds.

Markus recalls that Rodríguez Orejuela was not sentenced to death in 2006 but to 30 years in prison and reiterates his request for an early release for “compassion” for the former boss.


Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, who has suffered two cancers, colon and prostate, was one of the heads and founders of the Cali Cartel, a leadership he shared with his brother Miguel, in the greatest period of drug trafficking violence in Colombia, when Pablo Escobar ( 1949-1993) ran the Medellín Cartel.

Markus had already demanded early release from Judge Federico Moreno of the Southern District of Florida under a new federal sentence reduction law.

Last February, when he made this request, Markus told Efe that the current system “allows judges to be compassionate and that is what we are asking for here.”

In that petition, to which Efe had access, it was stated that “it is very possible that (Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela) has a terminal illness.”

He underlines that the inmate has undergone surgery and chemotherapy and has had two heart attacks, the last one in 2010, after which he had a pacemaker. In addition, he suffers from depression and anxiety, among other ailments, according to the lawyer.

In 2018, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, signed the so-called “First Step Act” of sentence reduction, approved by Congress.

The idea is that Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela lives with his wife, Myriam Rodríguez, and their 54-year-old daughter, Alexandra Rodríguez, in Bogotá.

In Colombia, the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers began working in modest trades, created a chain of pharmacies, and formed a conglomerate with banks and sports teams, while acquiring power in numerous sectors of the country and bribing politicians.

Colombian authorities captured or forced to surrender in 1995 to the seven main leaders of the Cali Cartel, including the two brothers.

Although the Rodríguez Orejuela were serving sentences in Colombia, they were extradited to the United States, where courts in Florida and New York accused them of sending more than 50 tons of cocaine to that country and in 2006 sentenced each to 30 years of prison.


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