- Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, aka Popeye, once worked as a hitman for Pablo Escobar.
- He personally attests to committing over 250 murders.
- He’s currently in prison and alleged to be sick.
Pablo Escobar will go down in history as the most revered drug lord of his time. His power and influence permeated beyond the borders of Colombia and was felt in the hallways of the Palace of Justice, the country’s judicial epicenter. Now 27 years after his death, his legacy lives on.
Some of his former henchmen are also alive. The most notable of them is Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez. Widely known as Popeye, he was a top hitman for Escobar, and is widely regarded to be the most dangerous man in the world due to the sheer number of murders he’s committed. Vásquez has personally admitted to carrying out over 250 murders on the orders of Pablo Escobar. Popeye was allegedly also involved in the kidnapping of Andres Pastrana Arango, the former Bogota mayor who later on became the president of the nation.
He still publicly declares unwavering loyalty to his boss, who he idolizes to this day. In one of his disclosures, he narrates how he shot his then-girlfriend, Wendy Chavarriaga Gil, who was also his boss’s former mistress. The order was clear, his life or hers. In a recent interview, Vásquez expresses that all the evil deeds committed at the time were just a job for him. “You have to understand I was a professional killer. Whenever I took a life, I didn’t feel anything. Not shame, not sadness, not happiness, it was simply like a day at the office carrying out Don Pablo’s orders,” he said.
His Time in Prison
Jairo Velásquez Vásquez was arrested in 1992 and charged with terrorism, extortion, drug trafficking, and murder. He was handed a 52-year prison sentence but received probation in 2016 for having served three-fifths of his sentence. Following his release from detention, he gained notoriety as a YouTube celebrity who regularly spoke about his experiences as a hitman for Escobar while espousing conservative political viewpoints.
Popeye was arrested again in 2018 following a joint operation by Colombian and U.S. authorities targeting a Medellin criminal syndicate that specializes in extortion. According to a recent insider revelation, Popeye was blackmailing frontmen for the Oficina de Envigado, a criminal outfit that controls some of the assets left behind by Pablo Escobar and his gang. He had previously been found rendezvousing with some of the group members.
Oficina de Envigado began as a unit under the direction of Pablo Escobar that specialized in debt collection. Its members, however, broke ties with Pablo and began operating autonomously in Bogota as a criminal enterprise involved in drug dealing and extortion. The group is today headed by Juan Carlos Mesa, aka Tom, and José Muñoz Martínez, also known as Douglas.
Alleged Health Complications
Popeye was recently alleged to have requested to be released from prison to receive stomach cancer treatment. Currently in prison, he has reportedly asked to be put under house arrest. The reports are, however, unconfirmed as nothing has been officially declared concerning his illness.