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One Time Heir of The Cali Cartel, Sheds Light on The World’s Biggest Cocaine Operation

December 8, 2014  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
One Time Heir of The Cali Cartel, Sheds Light on The World’s Biggest Cocaine Operation Image courtesy of tbo.com

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He was once Prince and heir to one of the most ruthless criminal organizations in the world.

Now William Rodriguez-Abadia has changed course and gives insight on the violent history of the Colombian drug cartel wars.

A report in The Tampa Tribune, details the accounts of Rodriguez-Abadia, son of the “Padroni” of the Cali Cartel, Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela.

In his new book “I Am the Son of the Cali Cartel,” he gives a detailed autobiographical account from his days growing up within one of the world’s most powerful drug organizations, to becoming the cartel’s consiglieri or legal counsel.

“I decided to write because I got tired of other people writing my story. I appear in more than eight books, my dad is in over 15, and what they have done is to turn this into a myth,” Rodriguez-Abadia said in a recent interview with Tampa Media Group.

After finishing a five year federal prison bid, which was reduced from 20 years because he cooperated with the feds — Rodriguez-Abadia, 48, now lives, in suburban Broward County.

Now, according to the report in the Tribune, He has decided to “put everything in black and white” to gain some peace of mind.

“My book is not about excuses. Its purpose is to accept responsibility. I was 30 when I decided to take the reins of the organization, in political and financial affairs, and I could’ve said no,” Rodriguez-Abadia said. “But I didn’t. I wanted the power.”

His transformation started in May 1996, when, while having lunch with friends at a restaurant in Cali, Colombia, his lunch was interrupted by a spray of of  bullets.

Six people ended up dead,  Rodriguez-Abadia was wounded, however, another victim’s pool of blood convinced one of the hitmen that they had finished off their target.

“Three friends died near me and it was so hard to talk with three mothers face to face and say, ‘It was my fault that your children died,’” he said.

Rodriguez-Abadia writes that while he was growing up, he was unaware of his father’s criminal enterprise.

To him, his father Miguel and brother Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela were successful businessmen.

He then began to grow suspicious, when as a child, his mother took him to live in Chicago. He returned to Colombia when he was 12 and chose to live with an aunt because his father already had another home.

“I was a good boy, a rich kid,” he said. “I had everything, but the affection part was missed because since I was very young, I left my mom and I was never close to my dad.”

Then the dark reality hit him when news came from Europe that his uncle had disappeared.

“In 1984 we realized the double life they led. My uncle was captured in Spain. At that moment the world knew that Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela was a drug trafficker,” he said. “Our only obligation at the beginning was to study, and then work in companies that they had founded.”

As time passed, Rodriguez-Abadia learned the business side of the Cali Cartel’s legitimate empire.

In 1995, when his father was captured, he took over the family business.

“Someone had to take the flag, so I assumed the legal and political battle that we had and that’s when I got involved,” he said.

Rodriguez-Abadia maintains that he never ordered any hits and “I never had to send drugs, because my father handled that part.”

The cartel’s legitimate business holdings were vast, he said.

“We had a company worth $300 million; I was never involved in murders because they did not have me for that. My dad wanted me to be a lawyer, and that was my role — a lawyer and lobbyist within the organization.”

Part of the empire was a chain of pharmacies, Drogas la Rebaja, with hundreds of branches throughout Colombia.

The pharmacies became the target of another crime organization, the Medellin Cartel led by the most ruthless and infamous drug kingpin the world would ever know,  Pablo Escobar.

“There are no excuses for that war. Situations were presented at a historic moment in the country where a man named Pablo Escobar wanted supreme power and even wanted to be president,” Rodriguez- Abadia said.

Escobar wouldn’t hesitate to kill by any means, especially by bombing, Rodriguez-Abadia said.

“He completely lost his sanity and turned the entire world into his military objective. Pablo Escobar blew up more than 50 local pharmacies and killed many of our employees. We were fighting against the greatest Latin American criminal in history. When you are in a war and conflict, unfortunately, there are casualties on both sides.”

In the early 2000s, Rodriguez-Abadia was a prime target for assassination and had to go into hiding on several occasions, not only from his rivals who wanted him dead but by the United States, who wanted to extradite him after he was indicted here in 2002.

In a 2006 news release, at the time Rodriguez-Abadia surrendered to U.S. authorities, the Drug Enforcement Administration said he was responsible for arranging and ensuring the payment of bribes and payoffs to incarcerated cartel employees and their families.

The agency said the payments were made to  potential witnesses who could testify against his father and uncle.

However, it would be Rodriguez-Abadia who would provide testimony in exchange for a reduced sentence to five years, which he served in a South Carolina prison.

His father and uncle are doing 30 years,  more than $2.1 billion in narcotics-related assets were seized from the Cali Cartel.

Much of his family are not thrilled about the publication of his book, which will be available in English.

But Rodriguez-Abadia feels he had to set the rec­ord straight.

“I do not have much support from my family about it because the family wants to handle it the old way, with silence and with fear, and I think that in the end that yields no results.

“In a life of crime, you always end up in one of two places: in prison or in a tomb.”

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