His is an amazing story. If only because not many men with similar lives would live to tell it. John Jairo Velásquez Vásquez is still very much alive and eager to share his tale about his days working as Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s trusted hitman.
Known by his nickname “Popeye,” he murdered over 250 people by his own hands. He and his colleagues in the Medellin cartel would kill six to twelve people a day during Escobar’s violent war against the Colombian state and his fight against rivals in the Cali cartel. He kidnapped, tortured, killed and maimed as he planted bombs, fired bullets, and stuck knives into his victims – be they cops, politicians, gang rivals or innocent citizens.
After all this violence, despite becoming the richest and most powerful crime boss in Colombian history, Escobar was taken down. He was killed in a shootout with authorities who had been hunting him down for years.
Popeye had more luck. He was sent to prison and sat there for 23 years. Now, he’s out. With the popularity of the Netflix show Narcos, Popeye enjoys the limelight. He’s out in public, taking selfies with tourists and has become a local celebrity in Medellin. He’s even opening up to documentary makers.
Watch the hour-long film about his life and his horrific criminal acts below: