2005 Safety, Security and International Affairs

Ed Kacerosky

Spearheaded investigation that led to the arrest of Colombian cartel kingpin—the biggest arrest ever in the war on drugs.

“It simply doesn’t get any bigger than this.” Those are the words of U.S. Attorney Marcos Daniel Jimenez, and they capture perfectly the significance of the arrest of Colombian kingpin Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela. The founder of the Cali cartel, Rodriguez-Orejuela is to the war on drugs what Osama bin Laden is to the war on terror. And as of December 2004, after a 13-year investigation, this murderer is behind bars in an American prison.  It takes a team effort to bring down someone so powerful and dangerous, but one man has done more than any other to bring this legendary criminal to justice—Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Ed Kacerosky.

Rodriguez-Orejuela’s Cali cartel was long considered the largest criminal enterprise in the world—controlling 80 percent of the world’s cocaine supply. For the past 13 years, federal officials based out of Miami have been targeting the cartel as part of Operation Cornerstone. The case has been successful in severely disrupting the Cartel and dismantling the operations of its leadership. During the case some 47,500 kilograms of cocaine were seized and more than 100 organization members and operatives were convicted.

The work of Operation Cornerstone was groundbreaking in many aspects. The quantities of cocaine seized, the innovative use of wiretaps on calling card systems and the conviction of six U.S. criminal defense lawyers who were counsel to the cartel were all unprecedented. But the most significant breakthrough from this case would have to be the arrest and extradition to the United States of the world’s most powerful druglord.

During the course of this extraordinary investigation, the case had been led and developed by Special Agent Ed Kacerosky. He was responsible for uncovering all of the smuggling routes in the earliest stages of the case, for the development and management of more than 120 witnesses and for the creation and implementation of different investigative techniques and strategies that brought about the successful demise of the organization.

Kacerosky’s achievements are not only a law enforcement accomplishment but also a diplomatic feat. With the Cali cartel’s significant wealth and political muscle, the Colombian government has been reluctant at times to confront Rodriguez-Orejuela. But Special Agent Kacerosky, who accumulated mountains of undeniable evidence, speaks fluent Spanish and understands the innermost workings of the Colombian government and society, was able to provide, in a highly articulate and politically palpable manner, the proof necessary to convince Colombian authorities to extradite Rodriguez-Orejuela to the United States.

The fight is not over, as Rodriguez-Orejuela must still face trial. But you can be sure that Edward Kacerosky will be doing everything in his power to build the strongest case possible to make sure that the biggest arrest in the war on drugs will become the biggest conviction.