John Jairo Velásquez
John Jairo Velásquez
|Other names||Popeye, J J|
|Occupation||Hitman (formerly), YouTuber|
|Conviction(s)||Murder, kidnapping and terrorism (charges with conviction fulfilled).|
John Jairo Velásquez Vásquez (born April 15, 1962) also known by the alias "Popeye", is a former assassin 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.
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.
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 laying 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, silver or lead (plata o plomo)". Velásquez 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.
- "El ex jefe de sicarios de Pablo Escobar seguirá en prisión al menos hasta 2016 (Spanish). Ex-chief of Pablo Escobar's hitmen to be in prison until 2016.". El Mundo. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
- Ramos, Fernando; Romo, Rafael (August 27, 2014). "Colombia frees Escobar man who killed". CNN.com. CNN.
- Declarado Culpable. August 11,1997
- DONJUAN, Revista. "Popeye: perfil de un sicario que mato a Alexandra más de 250 personas - Historias | Revista DONJUAN". revistadonjuan.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 2016-11-16.
- 'Popeye', jefe de sicarios de Escobar, saldrá de prisión tras 24 años. 23 August 2014
- "¿Por qué Escobar mandó matar a la novia de 'Popeye'?". La Prensa (in Spanish). 29 September 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
- "Confesiones de Pablo Escobar a 'Popeye' - KienyKe". KienyKe (in Spanish). 2011-09-21. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
- "Polémica de "Popeye" al mostrar video donde dispara un arma en calles de Medellín" (in Spanish). Caracol Radio. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Video de Popeye en Instagram disparando arma" (in Spanish). 12 December 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Pablo Escobar's hired killer 'robbed in Colombia'". BBC News.
- "POPEYE Arrepentido" (in Spanish). 8 June 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2017.