The Cali Cartel (Spanish: Cartel de Cali) was a drug cartel based in southern Colombia, around the city of Cali and the Valle del Cauca Department. Its founders were the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, Gilberto and Miguel, and José Santacruz Londoño, also known as "Chepe". They broke away from Pablo Escobar and his Medellín associates in the late 1980s when Hélmer Herrera, also known as "Pacho", joined what became a four-man executive board that ran the cartel.
With connections to British and Israeli mercenaries, allies among countries, countless spies and informants in the government, and its vast intelligence and surveillance network throughout the city of Santiago de Cali, the cartel was once renowned and compared to the Soviet KGB by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which called it, "One of the most powerful crime syndicates in history", later dubbed "The Cali KGB".
At the height of the Cali Cartel's reign, they were cited as having control over 90% of the world's cocaine market and were said to be directly responsible for the growth of the cocaine market in Europe, controlling 90% of the market there as well. By the mid-1990s, the trafficking empire of the Cali Cartel was a multibillion-dollar enterprise.