The group developed and organized itself into multiple "cells" that appeared to operate independently yet reported to a "celeno" (manager), who reported to Jorge Alberto Rodríguez, who in turn reported back to Cali.
In an interview with Time, Gilberto admitted to money's being laundered through the bank; however, he attributed the process to only legal actions.
The laundering, which Gilberto states was "in accordance with Panamanian law", is what led to the US authorities' pursuing him.
In order to launder the incoming money of the trafficking operations, the Cali cartel heavily invested its funds into legitimate business ventures as well as front companies to mask the money.
In 1996, it was believed the Cartel was grossing $7 billion in annual revenue from the US alone.
In the early 1970s, the cartel sent Helmer "Pacho" Herrera to New York City to establish a distribution center.
This action came during a time when the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was not fully pursuing cocaine and viewed the drug as less critical than heroin; at one point The Cali Cartel leadership comprised Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela El Ajedrecista ("The Chess Player"), Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela El Señor ("The Lord"), José Santacruz Londoño El Estudiante ("The Student") or Chepe Santacruz, Jorge Alberto Rodríguez "Don Cholito", and Helmer Herrera Buitrago Pacho.The Cartel also diversified into opium and was reported to have brought in a Japanese chemist to help its refining operation.According to reports and testimony of Thomas Constantine to the United States Congress, "Cali would be the dominant group in trafficking South American heroin due to their access to the opium growing areas of Colombia." Debate over the cartel's participation in heroin trafficking remains.Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela José Santacruz Londoño Jorge Alberto Rodríguez Hélmer Herrera Buitrago Phanor Arizabaleta-Arzayus Mery Valencia Jairo Ivan Urdinola-Grajales Julio Fabio Urdinola-Grajales Henry Loaiza-Ceballos Victor Patiño-Fomeque Raul Grajales-Lemos Luis Grajales-Posso Juan Carlos Ortiz Escobar The Cali Cartel was 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".Some top associates were Victor Patiño-Fomeque El Quimico ("The Chemist") or La Fiera ("The Beast"), Henry Loaiza Ceballos El Alacrán ("The Scorpion"), José Fedor Rey ex-guerrilla, and Phanor Arizabaleta-Arzayus.