The Colombian kingpins who revolutionized the global cocaine trade pleaded guilty to smuggling-conspiracy charges yesterday in Miami and apologizing for their life of crime, the Miami Herald reports. Gilberto and Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela stood in dark businesses suits before U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno as he sentenced the Cali cartel founders to 30 years in prison and ordered them to forfeit $2.1 billion in assets from their once-powerful empire.
”I am willingly submitting myself to American justice,” Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, 67, who was shackled at the ankles, told the judge. Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela, 63, apologized to his family. So significant was the case of the Colombian brothers — responsible for 80 percent of cocaine sold in the U.S. in the 1990s — that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and South Florida’s U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta held a news conference about it in Washington, D.C. “The brothers’ guilty pleas effectively signal the final, fatal blow to the powerful Cali Cartel,” Gonzales said.