According to several Colombian media, the former head of Pablo Escobar’s hitmen would have been transferred from prison for medical reasons, although this point has not been confirmed
In May 2018, half the world echoed the arrest of those who had been chief of assassins of Pablo Escobar, one of the most media-based Colombian drug lords in history. His name is Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, although everyone knew him as ‘Popeye‘, accused of concert crimes for crime and extortion. Velasquez was held in a maximum-security prison in Valledupar, a city located in northern Colombia very close to the border with Venezuela, but according to the Colombian media ‘ RPT Noticias‘, this Monday, on Christmas Eve, he was transferred in a vehicle under the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute (INPEC) to the Alfonso López Pumarejo airport, in the same city.
According to other media in the country, such as ‘ El Tiempo ‘ or ‘ El Espectador ‘, the hitman has been transferred to the La Picota prison, in the capital of Colombia, due to health problems arising from a disease: some media point out suffering from throat cancer; others, who have stomach cancer. A little over a month ago, the Colombian defender, Jorge Andrés Villegas, confirmed to ‘El Tiempo’ that his intention was to request ‘house arrest’ – alleging health issues.
‘Popeye’ had already spent a lot of time in prison before this: after more than 23 years in prison, he was released for the crimes committed when he was part of the Medellin cartel, after being accused of nearly 300 murders ordered by Pablo Escobar. In 2018, he was arrested again and entered prison again. In addition to the multiple homicides, about ‘Popeye’ weighs the accusation of being behind the execution of Guillermo Cano Isaza, then director of ‘The Spectator’, in December 1986.
The ties of ETA and Pablo Escobar
In the middle of the ‘narco war against the State’ in the 1980s several attacks were registered with the signing of the Medellín cartel; among them, an attack against the headquarters of the Administrative Department of Security of Bogotá in December 1989. About 70 people were killed and there were more than half a thousand injured due to deflagration, one year after the detonation of the Avianca’s 203 aircraft; This was an attempt to wipe out César Gaviria, the candidate for the presidency of Colombia, who eventually did not get on the plane, but ended with the death of more than one hundred people.
The attacks in Colombia during the 1980s were common, but the Medellin cartel was ‘modernized’ in the 1990s thanks to its alliance with the terrorist gang ETA. Although the versions of how Pablo Escobar came into contact with the Basque group vary, even among testimonies of the same person, everything indicates that an explosives expert of the band, aka ‘Miguelito’, was the one who taught the men of Escobar to manufacture the technology of the car bombs and to establish terrorism that until then had not been seen in the group of drug traffickers.
‘Popeye’ is, specifically, the person who has provided more information about the figure of the ‘Miguelito’ ETA, although many of the details of his stories have changed over time: according to the one who was the head of hitmen of Pablo Escobar, the First Contact with the ETA was the responsibility of one of the Cali cartel’s bosses, who maintained a strategic alliance relationship with the Medellín cartel until the situation became distorted. According to the version of ‘Popeye’, the ‘Miguelito’ was the one who taught them all the techniques of elaboration of explosives, with which those of Escobar were able to build up to 350 car bombs.
It was the same ‘Popeye’ who told, in another interview, that ‘Miguelito’ ended up being executed by the Pablo Escobar cartel after the attack in the Monaco building, one of the symbols of the power of drug trafficking in Medellin. The attack was perpetrated by the Cali cartel in its war against those of Escobar, and was the death sentence of the Etarra, according to the Popeye himself. “The bomb placed on the Monaco building, where Pablo Escobar’s family is, was built by ‘Miguel’ in Cali. And that cost him his life: we killed him“.