Friday, January 4, 2019

The Sicario’s Tale, Part 1: Pablo Escobar’s Top Hitman Tells ‘How I Blew Up More Than 100 People’

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat-thank you Doc- from The Daily Beast

On the 25th anniversary of the cartel chief’s death, his right-hand man reveals the Coke King’s secrets in an exclusive new series for The Daily Beast. Part 1




CALI, Colombia — Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez served for years as the ranking sicario, or hitman, of the Medellín Cartel under Pablo Escobar, who was killed 25 years ago this month. Known by the sobriquet “Popeye” because he had served as an officer in the Colombian navy, he says he personally murdered hundreds of people and ordered the deaths of thousands more.

Popeye was released from prison in 2014 after serving a 23-year sentence. In 2018, he was again arrested as part of a new investigation, although he maintains he is innocent of the new charges. A hero to many next-gen sicarios in Colombia, Central America, and Mexico, Popeye remains unrepentant and defiant.

For this exclusive Daily Beast series, Popeye agreed to speak from prison about his time as chief assassin within Escobar’s drug-fueled empire. Told in his own voice, and with only minor edits for continuity, these anecdotes provide a personal and penetrating account of what it was like to serve as second-in-command to one of the most infamous drug lords of all time.

The Bombing of Avianca 203

THE DAILY BEAST: What can you tell us, please, about your involvement in the bombing of Flight 203?

POPEYE: So in November of 1989, an Avianca airlines plane explodes in mid-flight, killing 107 people in the air [including two U.S. citizens] and three more on the ground. This happens in the middle of our war with the government…

Pablo Escobar ordered the bombing to kill presidential candidate César Gaviria Trujillo. We had killed Dr. Luis Carlos Galán in August 1989. Dr. César Gaviria was the heir to the throne of Dr. Galán, and their signature plan was the extradition of Colombians to the US.

Editor’s Note: Extradition to the U.S. was a primary concern for Escobar and his cohorts, and it remains a great fear for cartel leaders today. That’s because powerful drug lords are able to pull strings for easy treatment or even escape incarceration within the penal systems of their own countries, but they’re relatively helpless once on U.S. soil.

“That Bomb Was a Work of Art”


POPEYE: The person in charge of dynamiting the plane was Carlos Urquijo, aka “El Arete” [The Earring]. He worked together with Carlos Castaño Gil, who would later be our great enemy and a powerful paramilitary in his own right. The bomb was set by the Medellín cartel explosives expert Cuco Zabala…

Cuco arms a bomb case and hands it off to El Arete and he passes it to Carlos Castaño Gil. That briefcase was a work of art. Castaño deceived a young man and told him that he should open his briefcase in the air when the plane took off and began to climb. He told him that the briefcase held a tape recorder and that when he opened it the device would be activated to grab the conversations of certain passengers. That there were some Americans aboard, and the mafia needed to know about an extradition case they were carrying out.

Well, the dupe had already held a briefcase with a complex recorder in his hands and saw how it worked. Castaño had already given him several examples, to deceive him more easily. When the briefcase opened in the air, the bomb was activated. Cuco, an electronics engineer, had learned that trick from an explosives designer of the ETA [Basque separatists].

The bomb case was very complex and only a professional like Cuco could put it together.

Editor’s Note: Escobar made a habit of importing foreign terrorists and military experts to teach tactics to his sicarios. In addition to working with the ETA, Escobar also employed mercenaries from Great Britain and Israel for training purposes.

              On Nov. 27, 1989, the fate of 110 people was sealed

Pablo and Popeye in the 90's
POPEYE: Pablo Escobar moved [the bomb] to Bogotá with great care when the information came that presidential candidate César Gaviria Trujillo would be flying in a commercial aircraft. It was time to hoist the bomb and change 110 lives…

Gaviria was scheduled to board a flight from Bogotá to Cali. Meanwhile the DAS [Administrative Department of Security]—a special task force that escorts important persons of the Colombian state—was responsible for protecting all of the country’s runways. They controlled the El Dorado airport in the Colombian capital, and were commanded by a general of the police, the all-powerful Miguel Alfredo Maza Márquez.

But, using the bribe money given him by Pablo Escobar, Carlos Castaño was really the one in control.

Carlos knew I’d bought the ticket for the duped young man and got him just the right seat. We were all aware that if the bomb exploded in the wrong place it wouldn’t ignite the plane’s fuel tanks, and the captain could save the plane. So we created a domino effect with the fuel stored in the wings of the plane, the dynamite in the briefcase and the pressurization of the aircraft—a lethal composition…

Editor’s Note: For decades after the bombing of Flight 203, U.S. and Colombian prosecutors would blame a man who may well have been innocent. A lower-ranking sicario named Dandenys Muñoz Mosquera, alias “La Quica,” (The Fat Girl) received multiple life sentences for the bombing, until Popeye’s testimony to the Colombian DA resulted in La Quica being exonerated.

A “Guardian Angel” Intervenes

POPEYE: An accomplice in the DAS force who patrolled El Dorado delivered the briefcase bomb to the plane. Since the DAS ran the airport, they were able to easily slip the bomb to the young man we’d tricked after he was in his seat.

However, based on a hunch by Gaviria’s security chief, the candidate never boards the plane. A mile and a half from the airport and Dr. César Gaviria’s car turns around. Then the plane takes off, and after a few minutes it explodes, killing all 107 passengers and crew. And debris lands on three more people and kills them, too. The plane was totally destroyed—but the candidate lived. Maybe his guardian angel saved him that night…

Editor’s Note: The destruction of Flight 203 proved to be a bridge too far even for Escobar. Formerly considered untouchable, even a kind of national folk here, the terroristic nature of the bombing would provoke an unforeseen backlash. The George H.W. Bush administration would soon deploy the resources of the U.S. intelligence community in Colombia, sparking a massive manhunt for the Coke King and eventually leading to his downfall and controversial death in 1993.

44 comments:

  1. Can’t believe this guy is still alive

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    1. I am also surprised. This guy was on Netflix Dark Tourist and from the show he seems like a local celebrity in Colombia. People were coming up to him in the street to share his hand and take a photo.
      I highly recommend Dark Tourist to BB readers.

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    2. Dude are you high? i saw the same show and no one was “ coming up to him” he was going up to them and shaking hands like a politician! Most of those folks had a WTF look on thier face!

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    3. In medellin you would see IDIOTS lining up to take selfies with him before they took him last year. You got to love the DUMMIE generation taking selfies with a mass murderer who was a big part of making their own city a bloody mess.

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  2. I dont wish death on many people but this man is one. Complete human garbage

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    1. I've seen this guy on tv before. Smug, arrogant narcissist. Zero repentance for anything he's done. Human garbage is a good word! Didn't even read the article.

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    2. 6:39 . I am with you . Hard to understand why he is allowed to live . Cant they make any murder cases on him . Shit he walks around bragging about it . Probably exaggerated but still a mass murderer .

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  3. This lame reminds me of that bato lil puppet or chucko from bulevar nays aye. And has one of the most punchable faces as well ese. Simon que si tribilin.
    El Santana Montoya

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    1. Great flicks carnal.

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    2. Arriba el popeye y al que no le parezca que vaya y chingue mucho a su madre como vez ❓😂🤣

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  4. Confession from a psychopath.

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  5. What a scumbag.
    Columbian government should have electrocuted him long ago.

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    1. The Colombian government IS the original scumbag!

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  6. Crime does not pay.

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    1. Tell that to the politicos, chiefs of police, marinas and dons.

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    2. @12:21 Crime does not pay unless you are a politico, chief of police, business man, general or lawyer

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    3. @12:21 PM

      It’s a grave error to put the marinas with the rest of others,

      El Cabrón De Tamaulipas

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  7. This fuckin' guy must be tired from running to every camera and reporter he can find...

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    1. Bro for reals 😂

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    2. Pretending to be a reporter would have been one of the best ways to whack this guy.

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    3. To lazy to work and nobody would ever trust him for anything . He is just a street beggar . All he is worth is what he can get for a inteveiw

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  8. I’ve read about this guy a ton of times and one thing always comes to my mind. How has no one ever ended his pathetic excuse of a life? He must be protected or still have some kind of power because he has one of the most recognizable faces in Columbia if he even lives there anymore.

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    1. He does live there, hes in jail right now

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  9. This guy are big bullshit! In mexico you have a lot of sicarios a lot bigger than this guy..colombians compared to mexicans become soo weak after pablo death!

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    1. The flipsde to your comment is that the last thing anyone should want in the underworld is too much attention. It draws too many challengers your way. Can’t really be looking like a coiled snake 🐍 everywhere you go. So low profile is always best. - Sol Prendido

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    2. Óscar Osvaldo García Montoya, for one.

      El Cabrón De Tamaulipas

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    3. The colombians have crews in mexico that work for colombian cartels and some work for mexican cartels. Mexicans are all balls no brains look at the news on this blog or any with mexican news.

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    4. What an illustrious incredible status for a country to uphold to the world: We are number one, and oir killers are the best and biggest-and evidently it makes you stronger i.e., not weak like Columbia killers. SMH

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    5. Except for Chapo, he has no balls or brains just a bass mouth from which the snitching flows.

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    6. Soo you mean tuht colombians smarter than mexicans? They are a low profile?

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    7. Really? Seems like chapo is keeping his mouth shut n bein snitched on.by Colombians and Mexicans.n its part of the game in Mexico.they all do it

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  10. He really seems to enjoy the attention from media and the nutthugging public.... not sure anyone would care if he was killed off just like Griselda....
    GC

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  11. For many years I have wondered why the Colombian government never took him up in a chopper and tossed him out a few thousand feet up....still wondering why he today is still even breathing. This is a real monstrous piece of shit, raw sewage who deserves no breathe of air on this planet. Maybe soon his death will come slow and torturous and painful in the form of cancer and I hope it eats him alive....fucking scum POS.

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  12. so tired of this fake ass traitor who call himself Pablo’s GenerL even though he ran like a little bi... and left the man he called a “God” when they were on the run. Not to mention i doubt the law would have accepted his surrender unless he agreed to cooperate. that ol’ “the search bloc just happened on his location” was BS and this wanskter gave it to them!

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    1. That's ridiculous.Pablo stayed on the phone to long with his son on his son bday.it cost him.

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  13. Why is this guy the only one still around and free without the government putting him away for life for killing a popular presidential candidate you ask? Simple, He’s a SNITCH or did you really think the “Colombia Search Bloc” just happen to stumble onto Pablo’s location like they cliam lol

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  14. this guy has already had his 15 minutes of fame. Next !

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  15. Maybe one day when his short life on this earth is over and the creator of this complex reality asks him how he spent his precious time while on the planet, he can brag about how many people he killed for "Money" and how he's the general of the "Mafia"

    Good luck in the afterlife popeye.

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  16. This dudes a total scum piece of shit and i wish people would stop giving him attention- same as that "ex dea agent" mike vigil who seems to have worked every drug conspiracy case, ever

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  17. Scumbag should get death penalty he just a coward not tough at all.

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  18. This guy is the true definition of Attention Whore. How people glorify this POS boggles the mind.

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  19. cuando te toca te toca y cuando no te toca ni aun que te pongas.

    M”

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