Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez (Yarumal, Colombia April 15, 1962- Bogotá, Colombia february 6, 2020) also known by the alias "Popeye", was a former hitman who was part of the criminal structure of the Medellin Cartel until his surrender to the Colombian justice system in 1992. Within this structure he claimed to be a lieutenant commanding half of the sicarios.
Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez was born in the municipality of Yarumal, Antioquia, Colombia. He was admitted to the Colombian National Army; later he joined the cadet school of the national police, only to leave days later, having not found any satisfaction in his profession. Later, he entered the school of apprentices of the Colombian Navy where he earned his distinctive nickname 'Popeye' because of his physical resemblance to the character, which would later be removed by plastic surgery. Velásquez escaped from prison once and was later caught and served the time.
2 Criminal records
4 Personal life
6 External links
Velásquez attended University of North Barranquilla. He entered the School of NCOs of the Colombian Navy, and eventually transferring to the Police Cadet School General Santander, where he spent one semester. Later in life, while imprisoned, he also obtained 14 diplomas of various short courses.
Velasquez was identified as one of the most important hitmen of the Medellin cartel. He has confessed to 257 personal killings, the kidnapping of then candidate for mayor of Bogota, Andres Pastrana Arango (who would later become President of the republic), the kidnapping of Francisco Santos (who would later become vice president), kidnapping and murder of Colombian politician Carlos Mauro Hoyos, complicity in the murder of the governor of Antioquia, Antonio Roldán Betancur, in a failed mission entrusted to Popeye and John Jairo Arias Tascon, alias "Pinina" to kill a police colonel, and the killing of politician and Presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento. He also admitted to arranging over 3000 killings. He helped plan the plane bombing that killed 110 people.
In May 2018 Velasquez was arrested on charges of extortion and criminal conspiracy. It is claimed he was blackmailing former associates of Pablo Escobar pantera who still control some of his assets.
Since 1992, Velasquez served a prison sentence on charges of terrorism, drug trafficking, extortion, conspiracy for terrorist purposes and murder. However, despite the severity of his crimes, Colombia does not have capital punishment and the maximum sentence at the time of his conviction was thirty years. During 2000 and 2001, Popeye was involved in armed clashes in La Modelo prison. In 2008, he was sentenced to twelve years for other judicial proceedings against him. On August 22, 2014 he received probation for having served three-fifths of his sentence. At age of 52, he was released on 26 August 2014 after 23 years and 3 months in prison.
Velásquez was once in a relationship with Wendy Chavarriaga Gil, a former lover of his boss Pablo Escobar. They were lying in bed one day when the phone rang; on the other end was a recording of Wendy speaking with DEA agents. 'Popeye' was then given a choice: "love or death, money or lead (plata o plomo)". Velásquezo hung up the phone and shot Wendy fatally twice in the forehead, in a fit of rage. In an interview, according to Popeye, Escobar was clear in his instructions, "you or her, do not hesitate a single second ... plata o plomo, amor o muerte. I’m waiting" As his main sicario (hitman) and Escobar's right hand man, "Popeye" performed the murder himself even though she was the woman he loved. Velásquez was loyal to Escobar until the King of Cocaine released him of his duties while on the run.
Controversy has continued to follow Popeye since his release from prison. On December 12, 2016, a video appeared in which Velásquez brandishes and fires a handgun in the streets of Medellín. In the video, Velásquez proudly states, "Hello warriors, I'm here in the streets of my beloved Medellín, testing out my beautiful 9mm Pietro Beretta. We're firing it, it's a doll, a beauty!"
In December 2016, two men on motorbikes pulled up alongside him as he was driving in his car and robbed him of his glasses, two old bracelets and an old mobile phone, he said. He also said it was the second time he had been targeted in such a way but he had not reported the incidents.
Today, aside from being a controversial figure, Velásquez is a YouTube personality who uploads videos. In these videos, he critiques various topics in Colombia such as a corrupt government and socioeconomic hardships.. He is working on a TV series based on his own life and his involvement in the Medellin Cartel and will star in season 3 of Narcos (TV series). Netflix released a drama series called Surviving Escobar in 2017, which is based on the book written by Velásquez. Velásquez performs in a 2019 film X Sicario - Pablo Escobar's Hitman. He plays Simon, the most feared hitman who worked for Pablo Escobar, in this film. The film tells a story in which Simon resists against the new regulator of the Mafia in Medellín.
After having been admitted to hospital for a month, on December 23 2019, Velásquez was transferred for health reasons from the maximum-security prison of Valledupar to La Picota prison in Bogotá. On January 8 2020, it was announced that Velásquez suffers from terminal esophageal cancer and that he has at most a few months left to live. He died on February 6, 2020 in Medellín from cancer, he was 57 years old.
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