A Miami federal judge has denied an early release from prison for one of the kingpins of the Cali drug cartel, ruling that his health and the threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus are not sufficient grounds to end his incarceration. The decision from U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno means that Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, an 81-year-old former leader of the Cali cartel, will continue to serve his 30-year sentence at a federal penitentiary in North Carolina.
Rodriguez Orejuela and his brother Miguel, former leaders of the infamous Cali drug cartel, pleaded guilty in 2006 to trafficking more than 200 tons of cocaine from Colombia to the United States during the 1980s and ‘90s. The brothers reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Miami that allowed dozens of family members to avoid prosecution for money laundering and obstruction of justice charges as part of the agreement.
Rodriquez Orejuela’s attorney had filed a petition with the court requesting early release for his client on compassionate grounds. Attorney David O. Markus argued that Rodriquez Orejuela’s medical history, which includes colon cancer, prostate cancer, two heart attacks, high blood pressure, skin cancer, gout, chronic anxiety and depression, qualified him for compassionate release. Markus also cited media accounts of the threat that the COVID-19 poses to prison inmates as cause to let him out of prison.
“Because there were already sufficient reasons to release him, this crisis gives the court further reasons to grant his motion,” he said.
Lawyers for Shkreli, who is in federal prison, claim he has “devoted countless hours” to researching a cure.
Lawyers for “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli asked a federal judge Wednesday to release him from prison so he can help find a cure for COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus, court records show.
The documents, filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., say Shkreli, 37, has “devoted countless hours” to developing a cure for the disease, which has killed nearly 45,000 people in the United States and tens of thousands more around the world.
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Shkreli is serving a seven-year sentence at a federal prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, after being convicted in 2017 on securities fraud and conspiracy charges. His lawyers asked in the filing that he be allowed to serve the rest of his term at home with an electronic monitor.
Shkreli, a former biotech CEO and hedge fund manager, had been accused of repeatedly lying about the performance of his funds and raiding his company’s assets to provide returns to investors. He first gained notoriety in 2015 after he raised the price of a lifesaving anti-parasite drug by 5,000 percent.
Francesco Bonura, an influential boss in the Sicilian Cosa Nostra; Vincenzo Iannazzo, a member of the Ndrangheta; and Pasquale Zagaria, a member of the Casalesi clan, have now been moved to house arrest, according to Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italy’s anti-mafia prosecutor.
To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus within correctional facilities, the Italian government authorized magistrates to transfer inmates who have 18 months or less in their sentences to house arrest.
Cafiero De Raho said the three men had been held under “extra isolation measures” to avoid contact with people outside the prison because of the roles they had in mafia organizations.
“Once they are sent back home, these measures are obviously no longer enforced,” the prosecutor added.
Organised crime groups offer support to quarantined families who have run out of cash
As Italy struggles to pull its economy through the coronavirus crisis, the Mafia is gaining local support by distributing free food to poor families in quarantine who have run out of cash, authorities have warned.
In recent weeks, videos have surfaced of known Mafia gangs delivering essential goods to Italians hit hard by the coronavirus emergency across the poorest southern regions of Campania, Calabria, Sicily and Puglia, as tensions rise across the country.
“For over a month, shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs have been closed,” Nicola Gratteri, antimafia investigator and head of the prosecutor’s office in Catanzaro, told the Guardian. “Millions of people work in the grey economy, which means that they haven’t received any income in more than a month and have no idea when they might return to work. The government is issuing so-called shopping vouchers to support people. If the state doesn’t step in
Traditional organized-crime rackets like betting and construction are bleeding the New York mafia dry. But in Italy, the mobs are stronger than ever.
ROME—The New York mafia is taking a hit from the novel coronavirus pandemic after many of its money-making outlets have been shuttered.
Gambling halls, sporting events, and construction projects have long fed the Empire State gangs, but now that they are taking an “historic” blow, a law-enforcement source told the New York Post. “There’s never been a time when they weren’t making money through gambling,” the source said.
The American mafia families are also losing out on the extortion racket after restaurants and other entities close their doors under New York City’s “shelter in place” order. A halt to non-essential construction jobs, which includes transportation and port entry, has also put a dent in the U.S. mob’s profits.