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Monday, March 23, 2020

Cali Cartel Capo: Ailing drug lord cites coronavirus threat in bid for ‘compassionate prison release’ from Miami judge

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat   TY-GUS!  Source

One of the world’s most infamous drug lords — former Colombian cartel leader Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela — is hoping the potential threat of the novel coronavirus to his life will bring an end to his 30-year sentence in federal prison.

Rodriguez-Orejuela, 81, who has survived bouts with cancer in prison but maintains his health is “extremely fragile,” is trying to build momentum around the public health crisis for his “compassionate release” by a Miami federal judge who is considering his bid for freedom.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are concerned that when such a virus spreads to the facility where he is incarcerated, it will be a death sentence to Mr. Rodriguez-Orejuela,” the inmate’s defense attorney, David O. Markus, wrote in a court filing this week, in which he cited a recent news story on a judge’s release of hundreds of non-violent inmates from a county jail in Ohio because of the coronavirus scare.

“Because there were already sufficient reasons to release him, this crisis gives the court further reasons to grant his motion,” he said, citing a New York Times column suggesting that “jails are a much more dangerous place to be than a cruise ship” if inaction persists during the coronavirus threat.

Federal prosecutors, already opposed to his release from a federal prison in North Carolina under any circumstances, scoffed at his latest tactic amid the global spread of the coronavirus causing COVID-19.

“As of the morning of March 16, 2020, Butner, the institution where the defendant is incarcerated, has not had any staff or inmates diagnosed with the virus,” wrote prosecutors Lisa Hirsch and Lynn Kirkpatrick. “Staff members are being screened upon entry to the institution and the institution has isolation rooms and other means to isolate individuals to the extent that becomes necessary.”

The prosecutors noted that the federal Bureau of Prisons has imposed “social distancing” steps at all of its facilities, such as a 30-day suspension of visits as well as enhanced staff screenings. They also criticized the defense attorney’s reference to the release of certain inmates from the Ohio county jail, saying it is off point and “provides no support for the release from federal prison of a convicted leader of one of the world’s largest drug cartels.”

Rodriguez-Orejuela and his family led a powerful cartel based in Cali, Colombia, that revolutionized the cocaine-smuggling rackets in the 1980s and 1990s by turning the deadly narcotics business personified by Pablo Escobar into a corporate-like enterprise that exported an estimated 200 tons of white powder worth $2 billion into the United States.

At a hearing in February, U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno described Rodriguez-Orejuela as “a big-time drug dealer” as he considered his bid under a new federal law to be released from prison after spending 15 years behind bars. Moreno said he would make up his mind after reviewing the inmate’s medical records and any related legal cases, which were provided earlier this month.

At the hearing, prosecutors challenged the suggestion that Rodriguez-Orejuela was at “death’s door,” pointing out that he had recovered from his colon and prostate cancers after undergoing surgery. Then, as now, they strongly opposed his release from prison.

Even the judge made it clear at the hearing that the violent drug-trafficking history of brothers Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela weighed heavily on his mind. The brothers pleaded guilty to cocaine-smuggling conspiracy charges in 2006, accepting a maximum prison sentence of 30 years, in exchange for the feds’ agreement not to charge their other family members in the massive drug case.

Moreno wondered aloud whether the 2018 First Step Act passed by Congress should benefit a drug lord like Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela.

This week, his lawyer, Markus, defended the inmate’s renewed bid for compassionate release amid the coronavirus crisis, saying his family in Colombia can care for and support him.

“There’s absolutely no reason to hold non-dangerous elderly and vulnerable prisoners,” he told the Miami Herald Tuesday. “There is no such thing as social distancing in jail. And there’s no hand sanitizer and little soap. We need to be proactive and save lives.”

In a bipartisan effort, Congress passed the First Step Act aiming to improve the criminal justice system by reducing the federal prison population and allowing inmates to seek relief without compromising public safety. Before it passed, only the Director of the Bureau of Prisons could file a motion for compassionate release for inmates. Under the new law, families of inmates can file a motion with a federal judge after exhausting administrative options in the prison.

Last October, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola granted “compassionate release” to Miami imam Hafiz Khan after he served eight years of his 25-year sentence on terrorist conspiracy charges. Khan, 84, died in a North Carolina hospice care center just days after the judge’s order.

Petitions under the First Step law have become more commonplace: In February, notorious New York investor Bernard Madoff filed a petition asking a federal judge for compassionate release from prison, citing terminal kidney failure. The 81-year-old Madoff, arrested in 2008, is serving 150 years for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

So significant was the case of the Colombian brothers — once responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine sold in the United States in the 1990s — that then-U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and South Florida’s then-U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta took the rare opportunity to hold a news conference in Washington.

Prosecutors estimated that the brothers exported ‘‘over 200,000 kilograms’‘ to South Florida and other parts of the country from 1990 to July 2002. The brothers packed the white powder in concrete posts, frozen vegetables, coffee and ceramic tile, among other creative ways. Their organization supported a small-scale war against the Medellin cartel and its boss, which ended in 1993 with Escobar’s death.


  1. Grampa did the crime, must pay the time in prison.

  2. El Jugador de Ajedrez is making his next move.

    1. Asi es. El ajedrecista. Caballero de Cali.

  3. He wants compassion? Give him the same compassion he gave his victims.

  4. Cue the violins and tissue paper.

  5. Even with a cough judgement stands.

  6. God, I hope his health is not compromised . . . not

  7. Did you show a compassionate response to to all those you ordered killed? I don't think so.

    1. Los caballeros de Cali se mataban pero solamente a gente enredada en el negocio que les jugo mal. Nada de inocentes.

  8. 11:03 all the colombian, Mexican guatemalan, bolivian, etc, etc, have had US associates during their ascent to the top of their drug trafficking careers, very few of them ever become accused, fewer get convicted and almost none get prison, that is reserved for the lowly despised grameros and addicts.

    1. The American prison system is full of individuals of which you define. A sad truth to this statement.
      These political powers who for vested interests have yet to reverse this vicious cycle of incarceration in America. Applying the full extent of sentencing guidelines to what many see as a government condoned problem of the Iran- Contra scandal.
      Nevertheless, I must admit that the recent increase of extraditions of high profile figures from Mexico and abroad have shown the appropriate measures required to combat drug traffickers.
      A participation with a stern reminder & severe consequences for those who partake.
      Remnants of past educational reforms are all what remains from those who tried.

      In the end Americans love their drugs & have money to spend. This in the end is the bottom line.


  9. I wish someone would help a federal inmate number 17867-001, who is in USA jail. David R Chandler is 68 years old and has been in jail 30 years for growing pot!!!!! The gov't was in a race back then to get someone convicted under it's new Federal Drug Kingpin Law so they took a low level pot dealer and made him into a "kingpin". He never had the money a real drug kingpin would have had. He or his family has no money for attorneys. I knew him from going to school with him and yes he did grow and sell pot, but he was never on the level of a drug kingpin. He has been forgotten about. I wish someone would read this and look into his case. It's time for David "Ronnie" Chandler to come home to his family. He has more than paid for his crimes. Where is our forgiveness?

    1. Wat just because hes white f dat everyone in locked up should be left to. Die

    2. Not to worry he has 5 years remaining. Same thing poor Chapo was a farm worker, peddled corn and for no reason he is locked up for life.

    3. What does the colour of his skin matter?It seems to matter to your racist ass

    4. Interesting story. Indeed a matter for investigation where an injustice has occurred. Many are wrongfully sentenced & put to death due to political interests. Disregarding mercy for the sake of political advancement.

      As for the 10 year old commentating here (@ 11:29). Suggest learning to speak before writing. Like babies crawling before walking. Your ignorance is quite evident here. America's public educational system may not be of ivy league teachings. However, curriculum of reading and writing are pretty much standard. Enrollment is usually free of charge.

    5. One would think that now with many states legalizing marijuana such convictions will be reviewed for consideration. Especially when this so-called drug isn't causing mortality rates to skyrocket like other drugs from overdoses.
      Why many states continue to hand out harsh sentences for certain offenses is disturbing? Rather, alarming despite the error statistics like those who receive the death penalty. Reffernce to report findings that 1 out of 9 death penalty carried out in the US were innocent. And yet to abolish this practice in many states have been vigorously opposed and denied by conservative ideologies.
      Speaking for those who are voiceless & defenseless are why people like yourself are imperative for justice.

      I had the acquaintance of meeting an individual who was convicted of murder despite his illiterate competence. A signed confession of admittance by law enforcement which convicted him. After an appeals court hearing the ruling was overturned and freed.

      I do volunteering services from time to time. In my line of work many of my clients are of legal / medical profession who also volunteer. Will bring this matter upon their ears for discussion.

      Interesting story.

    6. Thank you 9:09pm There is a lot of infor about the Chandler case on the internet. 60 minutes came to our small town to do a story about it. Mr Chandler has admitted he was guilty of the crime of growing, selling pot, but he was no kingpin. At first he was facing the death penalty but out going President Clinton saved him from that, however it left him with life no parole. It was a race by a prosecutor to be the first one to win a conviction under the then new federal drug kingpin law. Mr Chandler won the prize. They took what was a run of the mill dope case and shaped it into the first federal drug kingpin case. If Manuel Noriega of Panama was not a "kingpin" then how could David R Chandler be? I feel like Mr Chandler has been forgotten about but I haven't. Think about it, what our gov't did to David "Ronnie" Chandler they can do to any one of us. Again, thank you for taking the time to read about his case.

    7. @ 10:25

      I applaud your efforts & dedication to to correct an injustice. I will forward these concerns to those I stipulated of.
      Unfortunately, I don't post any contact information on this website due to security concerns.
      Nevertheless, the ID number and name of individual given should be more than sufficient for contact with this inmate.

      I strongly advocate community services and volunteering where needed most.


    8. Did chandler pay for the murder or not??? Selling pot is one thing but being involved in murder...

      La pregunta

    9. Dickie Lynn a non violent smuggler from the keys was arrested in Biloxi got life. His companions all have been released decades ago. He was running dope into Mobile.

  10. Playing the smallest violin for him.

  11. Many got killed, this guy wants redemption my azz.

  12. Grampa already looks sick, too redish, he is prone to get CV, he is better off staying in there, which of course is self isolation from the public.

    1. Sherap everybody! O los meto al bote...
      Do not ask for any mercy if you do not have at least a billion dollars to donate to my campaign, a million at least for talking to you

  13. He is an old man he is no threat to any one who does it benefit to keep him locked up I say
    let him go home to his familey and spend the little time he has left in peace


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