In the Medellin cartel’s absence, the Cali cartel, which had financed the extralegal groups that helped hunt down Escobar, reigned briefly.
But it too was brought down in mid-1995 with the capture of Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela.
“The Cali cartel died today,” Colombia’s national police chief said after Miguel was arrested on August 6, 1995.
It marked not only the end of the Cali cartel but also of the all-powerful, top-to-bottom cartel model that Escobar had established with his Medellin operation.
Beginning in 1995, Colombia’s criminal underworld organizations would evolve into fundamentally different groups, responding to both shifts in the global drug market and to the ongoing pressure that the Colombian authorities, backed by the US, applied to them.
The first evolution, beginning in the mid-1990s, saw Colombia’s large, hierarchical and vertically organized cartels — what Insight Crime has identified as the first generation of drug-trafficking organizations — break down in to federations and alliances; groups that would form the second generation of drug traffickers.
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