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Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela

Imagine having more money than the Vatican. That’s what Chepe Santacruz told Miguel in the first episode of the third season of Narcos.

I know, you are addicted to these series just like me and I am sure you are here because you saw The Snitch Cartel: Origins and you want to know if what they say about Miguel Rodriguez or Emmanuel Villegas as he is called in the series is real.

Well ¿you know what? some are real and some are not, but I’ll let you find out for yourself, just leave me a comment when you finish of what you found most impressive about the life of Emmanuel Villegas….. sorry Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela.


miguel rodríguez orejuelaMiguel Rodríguez Orejuela AKA “The Lord”, was born on August 15, 1943, in the municipality of Mariquita, Colombia. He was one of the heads of the Cali Cartel along with his brother Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, Pacho Herrera and José Santacruz Londoño.

He is described as a person with a good character and affable treatment, personal qualities that together with a pocket full of money for whatever it was, were useful tools to build connections among the sectors with power in the country.

Thanks to those connections, his dedication and the payment of bribes to people with sufficient authority, he managed to free his brother Gilberto when he was arrested in Spain.

He was a keen analyst of criminal norms, in order to take the necessary legal actions to mitigate the sentences that he or another cartel member might face as a consequence of their prolific criminal activity.

That skill was used to sue the Minister of Defense of his country, Fernando Botero Zea, for not having respected his rights during the process that led to his arrest.

¿Who Were Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela’s Children and Wives?

Miguel had a total of four formal relationships and in two of them he got married. Like his brother Gilberto, he had 8 children.

  • His first marriage was in the early 60’s with Gladys Abadía, with whom he had a son in 1964 called William Rodríguez Abadía.
  • In 1969, he would get married for second time. In this occasion with Amparo Arbeláez Pardo, with whom he had a total of three children, María Fernanda, Juan Miguel and Carolina Rodríguez Arbeláez.

  • Then with Fabiola Moreno, with whom he had a relationship in parallel to her second marriage, he would have three children, Miguel Andrés, Juan Pablo and Estefanía Rodríguez Moreno.
  • Finally, her last relationship was with Martha Lucia Echeverry, with whom he would share bed since 1980 and with whom he would have a daughter named María Andrea Rodríguez Echeverry.

Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela Within the Cali Cartel

His work was typical of a transnational company. He supervised the production of coca paste in Bolivia and Peru, took it to the laboratories responsible for processing it until the final product was obtained, and finally moved it through different routes to the US states of Florida and Texas.

miguel rodríguez orejuela with his partners
Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela with his partners

Within the Cali Cartel he was considered a man of action, and the intellectual author of more than one hundred war operations against the Medellín Cartel in the late 1980s.

War Against Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel

The war between the Cali and Medellín drug lords begin when Escobar makes two demands to the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers: He asks for monetary collaboration for the war that he carried out against the state and demands that they give him Pacho Herrera to execute him.

Due to Miguel and Gilberto’s refusal to comply with Escobar’s demands, he declares them enemies of the Medellín Cartel.

On one occasion Miguel was in one of his mansions in Jamundí, Escobar sends several of his men to assassinate him. They place a car bomb, but it explodes before time and the drug lord leaves unharmed.

miguel rodríguez orejuela against pablo escobar

Later Escobar would again attempt against Don Miguel, who was in a football match. The drug lord leaves unharmed again since the killer murdered the wrong man.

This war led Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela to think that, by ending the life of his bitter rival, Pablo Escobar, they would end up with the Medellin Cartel, and they could keep their markets and distribution channels.

He had the idea that in order to expand the business it was necessary to eliminate all vestige of his competitors.

Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela’s Properties

The wealth of the Orejuela brothers is incalculable. According to figures published by the DEA, annually, they had a gross income of 3000 million dollars.

They owned more than 1200 properties that included apartments, houses, parking lots, closed residential complexes, even became owners of a clinic.

miguel rodríguez house
One of Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela’s properties

Among their companies, the best known is the drugstore chain “La Rebaja” which they decided to sell due to the constant attacks to which the branches were victims by Escobar.

They also had pharmaceutical laboratories, insurance companies, real estate companies, construction companies.

Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela’s Army

Miguel and his brother Gilberto were practically owners of Cali. Absolutely nothing happened in the city without them knowing it.

Their army was not composed precisely of armed men like Pablo Escobar, but rather it was what we call white-collar thieves.

Prosecutors, senators, journalists, policemen and soldiers were on their payroll and under the orders of the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers.

Even former Colombian President Ernesto Samper would receive money for his campaign, a fact that was made public when the narco-cassettes came to light and that it was baptized under the name of 8000 process.

With an army like this, it was almost impossible to achieve the capture of the drug lord since each time they managed to find his whereabouts, some infiltrator of the search block warned them of the danger so they could escape.

The only possible alternative for the authorities was to have someone in the ranks of Orejuela to help them.

The miracle would happen to the authorities when Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela’s security chief, Jorge Salcedo, contacts the DEA agents Chris Feistl and David Mitchell and assures them that he will turn the drug lord in.

Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela is saved by 42 centimeters

On July 15, 1995, the infiltrator of the DEA, Jorge Salcedo, would keep his word and give the information that Miguel was in the Colinas de Santa Rita building, Cali. Immediately an operation is established among the DEA and Colombian authorities.

When arriving at the site, there were only two people, the woman in charge of the service and an employee of the drug lord. They immediately began to search the place, but the narco did not appear anywhere. He was hiding in a cove in a bathroom that even Salcedo himself did not know existed.

After hours and hours of failed search, the authorities decide to end the operation and withdraw as they thought that the infiltrator was simply playing with them.

Jorge Salcedo finds out about this and immediately he communicates with his contact at the DEA to inform them of the location of some documents that had details of all the transactions and bribes carried out by the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers.

The documents were inside a wooden desk that the agents could not by any means open and that they had to destroy in order to have access to the material.

With this fact, the infiltrator showed that he was serious and regained the confidence of the agents who decided not to suspend the search.

A Prosecutor Appears

Continuing the search, the authorities realize that in one of the bathrooms there is a gap of 42 centimeters between the external and internal depth of the wall, and they decide to drill it with a drill.

They knew that Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela was there, but to their surprise, a prosecutor in the service of the Cali Cartel would appear, who would order them to vacate the facilities since they did not have an order to destroy the place.

Taking advantage of the expulsion of the authorities Miguel manages to escape. Later the DEA agents returned to the place and found towels with blood traces of the wounds caused when drilling the walls and an oxygen tank with which he managed to survive for almost a day.

¿How was Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela captured?

On August 6, 1995, a few weeks after the miraculous escape of the drug lord, Salcedo would again act and inform his contacts about the location of Miguel.

In response to this information received by the Search Block, a kind of hunting battalion created by the government to capture the illustrious characters, the hounds moved to a building where it was suspected that Don Miguel was hidden.

They noticed in which apartment he was by the light of the candle that every night the devout drug lord would light to the Virgin of Carmen.

miguel rodríguez orejuela captured
Capture of Miguel Rodrírguez Orejuela

By the time that the authorities were entering Miguel’s room, he was about to hide himself inside a cove with his ex-wife Amparo Arbeláez.

In the trial of the Colombian state against him, the Attorney General of the Nation requested a 24-year sentence for the crime of drug trafficking, in addition to the extradition requested by the courts of both the United States and Canada.

In 1998, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Although the sentence was reduced for procedural benefits, his time purging sentence was extended by the emergence of other causes against him.

At first he managed to evade extradition, since he was tried for crimes committed before 1997 when it was prohibited, however, over the years the history would change.

Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela is Extradited

In 2003, a court of the State of Florida, in the United States, accused him of obtaining and laundering while in prison, more than two billion dollars in profits resulting from activities related to drug trafficking, which is why he was extradited on March 11, 2005.

Rodríguez Orejuela, Miguel. AKA “The Lord”, AKA “Robinson Pineda”, AKA “Patricio”, AKA “Pat”, AKA “Manuel”, AKA “Manolo”, AKA “Mickey” was handed over to agents at the service of the US Anti-drug Department at the military base of Palanquero in Puerto Salgar, to be taken on a private flight to the United States to report to the justice of that country about his illicit activities.

miguel rodríguez orejuela extradited

In the trial that was followed once in the hands of the US justice, he was found guilty of exporting drugs into the territory of that country and money laundering. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

¿Where is Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela Today?

Miguel Rodriguez is currently incarcerated in South Carolina, United States, in a prison called Federal Correctional Institution, Edgefield. He will recover his freedom in 2030 at the age of 87 years old.

Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela and the Television

The story of the drug cartels have been taken many times to the small screen, counting on the appearance of the famous drug lord:

  • Performed by Ricardo Vélez, under the nickname of Manuel González, he appears in the series “Escobar, The Drug Lord”.
  • In “The Snitch Cartel“, his role is played by Hermes Camelo, under the name of Leonardo Villegas.
  • In the popular series Narcos, his character is played by the Venezuelan actor Francisco Denis.
  • In The Snitch Cartel: Origins, Miguel is played by Sebastian Osorio in his young life and Carlos Manuel Vesga as an adult under the name of Emmanuel Villegas Ulloa.