BOGOTA | “Popeye”, the hired killer, the most famous of the deceased trafficker of colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who claimed to have murdered hundreds of people on the orders of the “boss,” died Thursday of cancer of the stomach, have announced the prison services.
Jhon Jairo Velásquez, his real name, died at the age of 57 years under the supervision of guards at the national Institute of oncology, where he had been transferred on 31 December.
According to the national prison Institute (Inpec), “Popeye” had been re-arrested on may 25, 2018 for “criminal association and extortion”.
He had previously spent 23 years in prison after being delivered to justice in 1992. It had previously been one of the men closest to de Pablo Escobar, the leader feared by the Medellin cartel, to the origin of the export of thousands of tons of cocaine to the United States.
In an interview with AFP in 2015, “Popeye” was said to have murdered “at least 250 people, maybe 300”, on the instructions of the “boss”, and ordered some 3,000 assassinations. But these figures have not been confirmed by any official source.
To avoid his extradition to the United States, Pablo Escobar, considered to be the incarnation of evil, has delivered to the colombian government in a war without mercy, marked by car bombings, as well as the kidnapping and assassination of politicians, journalists and judges.
This baron of the cocaine had been killed by the police on 2 December 1993 in Medellín, the second city of Colombia.
After having found freedom in 2014, “Popeye” — so nicknamed for having been a sea cadet, and a prominent chin, which is operated by the suite — had since made famous by his stories of the days of the cartel, including published on social networks, including her YouTube channel, with up to one million subscribers.
He wanted to “get important […] and to justify his criminal activity”, but he has mostly played the role of “architect of the crimes of the Medellin Cartel”, has recently told AFP the ex-vice-president and retired general Oscar Naranjo, one of the men who has the most pursued Escobar.
The commander of the army, general Eduardo Zapateiro, who had fought drug traffickers, has led to the surprise on Thursday by stating in a press conference : “I present to the family of Popeye our sincere condolences. Today, is death a Colombian, who has been in his life”.
Facing criticism that followed, he then qualified his remarks on Twitter : “Knowing his crime and the pain he has caused to the people of colombia, whose scars are not yet healed, my only consideration is going to the victims. We will continue the offensive against this scourge” of drug trafficking.
For his part, Juan Manuel Galan, a son of the liberal candidate Luis Carlos Galan, who was assassinated on the orders of Pablo Escobar in 1989, has paid tribute to “the thousands of families that this criminal has destroyed.”
His brother, the politician Carlos Fernando Galan, recalled, on social networks, that “Popeye” had “confessed to have handed over the weapon to the killers who murdered my father. I have forgiven him. I don’t rejoice in the death of any human being. I hope that in the face of death, he repented of his crimes”.
After being released from prison, this killer had militated against the peace agreement signed in 2016 with the ex-Farc guerrillas and against the leaders of the left, going as far to threaten them.
In 2018, he had been again arrested for a case of extortion, after it was spotted by the police at a party given by a mafioso.