3,000 deaths on account: loyal Escobar killer makes statements
Two years away from prison, Popeye, the dreaded assassin working on Pablo Escobar's trusted team, decided to break the silence.
John Jairo Velasquez Vasquez, 53, admitted to killing around 300 people and ordering the deaths of over 3, 000. He was a pivotal piece in Escobar's reign of horror. Even so, police and judges were unable to find pending cases that left him in prison for more than 23 years.
In an interview with Colombian TV Caracol, Popeye said he was never guilty of any deaths, but just another victim of the most famous drug dealer.
Escobar and Popeye
Life out of prison
After gaining freedom, Popeye hid for fear of reactions from the families of countless victims he made. But now, he says he is finally ready and intends to write a memoir to tell everything he lived with the Medellin Cartel.
Without the involvement of DAS in the 1980s, the murders of many politicians, as well as drug traffickers who were enemies of the Medellin Cartel, would not have happened.
Titled “I Survived Pablo Escobar, ” the work promises to reveal the truth about the country's head of trafficking and the Administrative Security Department: “Without the involvement of DAS in the 1980s, the murders of many politicians as well as drug dealers who were enemies of the Medellin Cartel would not have happened. ”
In his statements, he insists that all dead people were victims of war and, trying to justify their actions, claims that "circumstances make man."
Popeye spent over two decades in prison
Pablo Escobar and the DAS
It would be impossible to tell Popeye's life without talking about Escobar. He says the "drug baron" was far more powerful than anyone could imagine and that his fortune allowed him to control the country's intelligence agency, the Administrative Security Department, which was dissolved in 2011 and had a similar role. to the FBI.
Alongside Carlos Castaño, Escobar managed to find and kill rivals from other gangs and politicians who wanted to limit his power. According to him, in 1986, Alberto Romero and Carlos Castaño took control of DAS with the money from the Medellin Cartel.
For Popeye, his revelations will shock the people who followed Escobar's terrible years in Colombia and who believed the country's intelligence service was trying to end his reign. Former DAS chief Carlos Castaño, in addition to being wanted for drug trafficking, was the leader of a far-right paramilitary organization, the AUC.
Escobar and the Medellin Cartel
By bribing Castaño, Popeye was able to make his way inside the Colombian government to commit his boldest murders. He kidnapped and tortured a future president and his deputy, killed an attorney general and even participated in the assassination of Luis Carlos Galan, also a presidential candidate.
When arrested in 1992, Popeye had taken the lives of more than 250 people with his own hands, detonated more than 250 car bombs, and was directly involved in the bombing that killed 107 people on an Avianca flight.
Avianca Flight Attack
For him, "if it weren't for DAS, Dr. Galan (candidate) would not have died, Jose Antequera (union leader) would not have died and the 107 people on the plane would not have died."
Money and luxury
Popeye says that at its peak, the Medellin Cartel supplied 80% of the cocaine market worldwide, generating an average of $ 420 million per week. So much money that they spent almost $ 2, 000 each month on rubber bands to organize the ballots.
On Escobar's estate was a private zoo, including no less than 50 hippos from Africa. Even when it came to eating a simple hamburger Escobar was lavish: he would fetch his favorites by helicopter.
The first contact with Escobar
Popeye says he met Pablo when he was just 18 years old and remembers his first job: killing a bus driver in Medellin who had not helped a friend's mother when she fell off the vehicle - and eventually died.
After that, the carnage involved a lot of people, from police, journalists, politicians and judges, to countless innocent civilians.
He reveals that he felt nothing: “This idea that a person cannot sleep just thinking about the dead does not apply to me. I don't need to take drugs or pills to calm down. The things I did don't get me sleepy. ”
By gaining his boss's trust, he went to another level, being involved in the kidnapping of Andres Pastrana, a well-known Colombian journalist who entered politics, and the assassination of Carlos Mauro Hoyos, the country's attorney general.
Attack at the Colombian Congress in 1989
The Day Popeye Left Escobar
In 1991, Escobar surrendered after being investigated for the murder of a presidential candidate. In an agreement, he guaranteed not to be extradited and, furthermore, was still able to build his own prison, with soccer field, whirlpool and other perks.
Popeye remained faithful to him, killing in his name even when Pablo was behind bars.
As soon as the government threatened to put Escobar into a tougher prison, he simply walked out the back gate of the vanished one.
With Caesar Gaviria in power, the government launched a drug crusade, causing a real war that ended with Escobar killed in a shooting three years later.
But before that, in October 1992, feeling the siege closing, Popeye decided to abandon the one he considered a god and surrender.
In prison, he cooperated and facilitated the work of the authorities, who managed to convict other cartel members.
After more than two decades behind bars, Popeye was released in August 2014, escorted by 200 police officers and believed he would be killed at any time.
He hid for two years, until this month he decided to create a Facebook page to tell his version of the story: "I am Medellin's living memory."
About Netflix's famous Narcos series, he says, "These soap operas, series, movies are rubbish and don't tell the truth."