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The Cali Cartel

The Cali Cartel

Sample Answer 

The Cali Cartel

Introduce your selected organized crime group, and then present an overview of the group’s business strategy

The Cali Cartel was an association of a couple of independent organizations of drug traffickers that were operating out of Cali, Colombia (The United States Department of Justice, 1994). This cartel originated from a small criminal gang from Cali identified as “Los Chemas,” which was formed in the 1970s by Jose Santacruz-Londono and Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela. Initially, the gang limited itself to kidnapping and counterfeiting, but it slowly advanced its operations by smuggling drugs from Bolivia and Peru to Colombia to convert cocaine into cocaine hydrochloride (cocaine HCI). Resulting of such roots, the Cali Cartel grew into one of the most powerful drug cartels in history. Later, the Cali Cartel evolved into supplying most of the cocaine consumed in Europe and the United States. Every year, the cartel smuggled thousands of tons of cocaine into Europe and the United States and laundered millions of dollars in cocaine proceeds.

The leaders of the cartel were responsible for overseeing vast international networks of the production, wholesale distribution, and transportation of cocaine as well as money laundering practices (The United States Department of Justice, 1994). The kingpins of Cali controlled the operations of their respective organizations. Even though each of the trafficking groups of Cali was independent and separate, they shared a variety of resources upon the coinciding of their interests. For instance, it was not uncommon for more than two Cali groups to integrate shipments of cocaine for transportation into the United States. Similarly, various Cali groups might have collaborated in drug money laundering operations. 


The Cali Cartel leaders directly controlled and commanded every significant facet of the international drug trade (Thuomi, 2009). The organizations of Cali Cartel not only imported cocaine from Bolivia and Peru but also converted the coke into HCI at clandestine laboratories; then, they went ahead to smuggle the final product to London and the United States for wholesale distribution. The production of cocaine in 1993 was seven hundred and seventy metrics, according to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, and the majority of this cocaine production was by Cali Cartel. Bolivian trafficking and Independent Peruvian organizations were the ones supplying the Cali Cartel with the finished cocaine HCI and the cocaine base. Most of the cocaine base was moved by the Colombian traffickers from Bolivia and Peru to the laboratories that convert cocaine in Colombia by a twin-engine general aviation airplane. Cocaine-conversion labs were discovered in various parts of Colombia, especially in the jungles and remote plains. The operations in the labs involved industrial kind of facilities employing more than twenty workers and producing more than two hundred kilograms of cocaine weekly. The final cocaine products from such labs were smuggled into the foreign market by traffickers by use of land, air, and sea routes.

Cocaine concealment in legitimate bulk maritime and containerized cargo was an efficient method used by Cali Cartel to smuggle cocaine into the international markets (Thuomi, 2009). Such means of concealing cocaine was limited by the ingenuity and resource of drug traffickers. The Cali Cartel had tried the use of submarine-like vessels to smuggle cocaine from the North Coast of Colombia to Puerto Rico for subsequent transportation to the U.S. General aviation aircraft were used for cocaine transportation to Mexico and Central America from Colombia, and from there, the merchandise would be transported via road to the southwestern U.S (The United States Department of Justice, 1994).

Identify the different businesses in which this organized crime group is involved and determine which is the most lucrative

The Cali Cartel started by trafficking marijuana but later on shifted to smuggling cocaine because it was easy to transport it and its profits were lucrative (Aleksoski, 2015). The testimony and reports of Thomas Constantine to the U.S Congress stated that the Cali Cartel was the dominant group that traded heroin from South America as a result of their easy access to Colombia’s opium growing areas but there are still debates over the participation of the Cali Cartel in the trafficking of heroin. Some believe that the leaders of the cartel did not get involved in the trading of heroin but their close associate, Ivan Urdinola-Grajales was. At the peak of the cartel’s reign, it was cited as having more than ninety-percent control of the world’s market of cocaine and by 1990s, the Cali Cartel’s empire of drug trafficking was a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Investigate if there are national and international connections to other organized crime organizations

The Cali Cartel was involved in a working relationship with some tobacco smugglers that operated from Galicia, Spain (Thuomi, 2009). These smugglers were well conversant with the coastline of the region as well as storage facilities that were appropriate for smuggling illicit drugs. Initially, the Cali Cartel used boats for picking up cocaine from vessels that used the ocean and bringing them to the shore. To launder money, the cartel had established numerous accounts between Panamanian and Spanish banks and invested in real estate business. Slowly, the cartel managed to contact the local Colombian communities in Germany, the UK, Ireland, Italy, and Holland to develop a network of distribution and infrastructure similar to the ones established in Latin America and the United States.

Also, the cartel was able to develop a strategic alliance with some of the powerful mafias from Italy, particularly one known as Camarro (Thuomi, 2009). The Cali Cartel was responsible for the supply of cocaine, and the mafia’s responsibility was to distribute the cocaine. The relationship between the two was a smooth one, and it was partly strengthened by their mutual likeness to football and the respect Cali had for the criminal style of the Italian mafia. In no small part indeed, the cartel was able to model its organization on the Italian mafia.

Years after Gilberto visited Spain, the Cali Cartel had already established itself in Europe, but that was just the beginning (Thuomi, 2009). Two significant happenings significantly raised the cartel’s potential in that continent. First, it was the communist collapse that followed the falling of the Wall of Berlin in the year 1989 and the Soviet Union’s dissolution in January the year 1993. The second happening was the creation of a borderless continent after the elimination of the European trade barriers in the year 1992 according to the terms of the 1987 Single Europe Act. After the incident with the Berlin Wall, the first links that were established between the West and East were the organized syndicates of crime. The Cali Cartel alongside other crime groups, like the Italian and Russian mafias started to hold summits to find out ways they could cooperate better to advance their interests of criminality. This collaboration was beneficial because, in early 1993, there was a seizure of approximately two thousand three hundred kilograms of cocaine. A year later, the number increased to four thousand two hundred kilograms of cocaine.

Explain why it is important for an organized crime organization to become involved in legitimate businesses. Provide examples to support your claim.

The main reason for engaging in criminal activities is money (Witte, 1997). Money laundering is the primary method used by organized crime organizations to disguise the illegal origin of their wealth and to protect their base of assets to avoid being suspected by the agencies of law enforcement and to prevent leaving any trail of evidence that could incriminate them. Also, these organizations rely on money for self-sustainability and to continue carrying out their criminal activities (Aleksoski, 2015). The money for these organizations is derived from an array of sources, and while some of them are not concerned with disguising their money’s origin, they are very much concerned with concealing the money’s destination therefore, these crime organizations employ similar money-laundering techniques to hide their money.

Describe how the awareness of rural organized crime better prepares society to combat the problem of organized crime in general.

Organized crimes are those illegal practices carried out to earn money illegally; they include, violence, blackmailing, bribery, and human trafficking, among others (Ferragut, 2012). Residents in rural regions are generally unaware of the rules of the game. They view the world in black and white. City life fascinates them since it looks luxurious and thus since they want to look for more money, they are prone to involving themselves in organized crime. So if the rural people are informed about the hazards of human trafficking or bribery, they might avoid such practices and also prohibit them. Organized crimes tend to target the rural region because of the reasons mentioned above, and drug trafficking is much common in the rural areas compared to the city so programs should be established to inform the people about organized crime and generally such crimes would be combated.


Aleksoski, S. (2015). Money Laundering as a Type of Organized Crime. Journal of Process Management- New Technolofies, International , 3 (3).

Ferragut, S. (2012, November). Organized Crime, Illicit Drugs and Money Laundering; The United States and Mexico. Retrieved from

The United States Department of Justice. (1994, November). The Cali Cartel: The New Kings of Cocaine. Retrieved from

Thuomi, F. E. (2009). Drug lords. The rise and fall of the Cali cartel. The richest, most powerful crime syndicate in history. Global Crime , 10 (3), 288-290.

Witte, A. (1997, August 24th). Organized Crime. Retrieved from


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Week 6 – Assignment: Examine Organized Crime in Your City, County, or State


Research articles, news reports, and media reports about organized crime cases in your city, county, or state. Court records are publicly accessible and provide excellent resources for case information.

Choose an organized crime group (for example, Chicago Outfit, Genovese family, A-Team, Juarez Cartel, or the United Bamboo gang) that is of special interest to you. Then, prepare an analysis that addresses the following: Choose cartel de Cali, Colombia

The Cali Cartel

The Cali Cartel

  • Introduce your selected organized crime group, and then present an overview of the group’s business strategy.
  • Investigate if there are national and international connections to other organized crime organizations.
  • Identify the different businesses in which this organized crime group is involved and determine which is the most lucrative.
  • Explain why it is important for an organized crime organization to become involved in legitimate businesses. Provide examples to support your claim.
  • Describe how the awareness of rural organized crime better prepares society to combat the problem of organized crime in general.

Support your report with a minimum of three scholarly resources. In addition to these specified resources, other appropriate scholarly resources, including older articles, may be included.

Length: 5-7 pages, not including title and reference pages

Your report should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course by providing new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards.

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