Escobar’s Hitman Freed

By bogotapost September 10, 2014

 Killer responsible for more than 300 murders released after only 22 years in prison



The so-called “killer-in-chief” of Colombia’s most notorious drug lord has been released from prison after serving only 22 years of his sentence.

Renowned as one of Colombia’s most ruthless criminals, John Jairo Velásquez – more commonly known by his nickname ‘Popeye’ – was incarcerated for the murders of more than 300 people. He is suspected in the involvement of 3,000 other murders on behalf of narcotrafficker Pablo Escobar.

‘Popeye’ was released early “for good behaviour,” according to Colombian media reports.

He left the maximum security prison of Combita, in the Boyaca department, after 9pm on August 27, surrounded by an entourage of security vehicles seemingly on the way to Bogota, reports said.

According to sources, an employee of the Ombudsman’s office stated that Velásquez asked for help in order to protect his life when he left prison.

Velásquez has admitted various times that he single-handedly killed at least 300 people and that as chief hitman for Escobar, he oversaw around three thousand more murders.

He is also thought to have planted more than 200 bombs in Bogota during the 80s and 90s, as part of the Medellin drug cartel’s war against the Colombian state and rival mafia groups.

His victims include the former Attorney General Carlos Mauro Hoyos, who was kidnapped and murdered in January 1988, as well as many magistrates, judges, journalists, policemen and anyone thought to oppose the actions of Escobar and his drug cartel.

In an interview last year with Semana Magazine, Velásquez said that when he leaves prison he would like to work giving conferences to young people so that they don’t make the same mistake that he made – working for the drug trafficking mafias and becoming hitmen.

 By Steven Grattan