Gilberto Rodriguez takes center stage as one of the four Cali Cartel bosses in Season 3 of Narcos. He formed the Cali Cartel back in the 70’s with his brother Miguel and ‘Chepe’ Santacruz. The flamboyant Pacho Herrera was later promoted to a boss to form the foursome that became the biggest drug trafficking organization in Colombia after Pablo Escobar’s fall.
Narcos Season 3 spoilers ahead.
If you are wondering what the real Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela was like in real life, he wasn’t much different from the character in Narcos Season 3. As portrayed in the series, Gilberto and his organization were much less violent than Pablo Escobar, who went to war with the Colombian government.
Gilberto preferred bribes and surveillance over intimidation and he successfully penetrated the Colombian government to the highest level. Despite his careful planning, Gilberto was quickly captured by the Colombian Police. In Narcos, the Cali Cartel boss ends up behind bars by Episode 4.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the real Gilberto Rodriguez was hiding in a secret bookcase in a wall rather than under a bathtub as portrayed in Narcos. However, the police reportedly made an unsuccessful raid in his home days earlier where Gilberto hid in a bathroom cabinet with an oxygen tank.
In a shocking twist in Gilberto’s capture that was not shown in Narcos Season 3 was that the Cali Cartel boss was freed in 2002 after serving about half of a 15-year sentence. According to a BBC report, Gilberto was freed by a judge for good behavior. The then Colombian Interior Minister, Fernando Londono attributed his release to his political influence.
After pressure from the United States, Gilberto was re-arrested after an order from the Colombian president. He was later extradited to the United States where he is currently serving a 30-year sentence in North Carolina.
Gilberto Rodriguez as shown in Narcos was a charismatic leader, who earned the nickname ‘the chess player’ for his ability to outthink his enemies. He is portrayed by Damián Alcázar in Narcos but wasn’t consulted by producers.
Gilberto’s son in real life Jorge Alberto Rodríguez wasn’t a lawyer. He was introduced to the drug trafficking business by his father and ran The 400 – a subsidiary of the Cali Cartel based in New York. He is currently serving a 45-year prison sentence after being arrested in his home in July 1990.
[Featured Image by Richard Shotwell/Invision/Colombian National Police/AP Images]