updated 12/6/2004 6:57:00 PM ET 2004-12-06T23:57:00

The attorney for a Colombian drug kingpin said Monday that it will be “virtually impossible” to get a fair trial for his client on charges he supplied most of the cocaine smuggled into the United States in the 1990s.

Attorney Jose Quinon said he doubts whether any jury that hears the allegations against Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela will judge the evidence fairly.

“When an individual of this magnitude comes over, the publicity that he brings with him really undercuts any chances of really getting a fair trial,” Quinon said.

Rodriguez Orejuela, 65, is accused with his brother of running a network that produced 80 percent of the U.S. cocaine supply in the 1990s. He insists he has not been involved in drug trafficking since being imprisoned in 1995.

Quinon did not request bail Monday for Rodriguez Orejuela, who made his first court appearance since his extradition from Colombia over the weekend. Quinon said seeking bail would have been a lost cause.

“I don’t think the bond was a thing that was going to happen,” Quinon said. He said Rodriguez Orejuela will plead not guilty when he is arraigned Dec. 27.

U.S. investigators have assembled a team of smugglers, accountants and associates to testify against Rodriguez Orejuela, described as the strategist among the founders of the Cali cartel.

‘I feel innocent’
He faces an extended wait before the drug, money laundering and obstruction-of-justice charges against him are aired.

“I feel that I’m a new man,” Rodriguez Orejuela told Colombian radio station W shortly before he was flown to Miami on Saturday. “I feel innocent of the charges they are making against me and I will respond to them.”

Prosecutors have evidence that includes hundreds of hours of taped telephone conversations involving his jailed brother Miguel, known to gab for hours at a time.

Colombia’s Supreme Court has yet to rule on a U.S. extradition request for Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela.

Authorities believe the brothers controlled about 80 percent of the world cocaine market after rival Medellin drug lord Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993. Despite the arrest of the brothers and other top traffickers in Colombia, the Andean nation remains the world’s largest producer of cocaine.

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