A former hitman for Pablo Escobar has confessed that his ex-boss had planned terror attacks against the current manager of the Peruvian national team. Jhon Jairo Velazquez, known by his alias ‘Popeye’, is a former assassin who worked for Colombian drug lord Escobar in the 1980s.
Speaking to Peruvian newspaper El Popular, Vazquez said that Escobar had thought about bombing the Colombian side America de Cali when current Peru boss Ricardo Gareca was playing for them between 1985 and 1988.
He said: “Yes, Ricardo Gareca was always in Pablo Escobar’s eyeline, however they did not get to him.
“The Patron’s (Escobar’s) love of football saved Ricardo Gareca, well him and the other players of America de Cali.
“He (Escobar) thought about using a car bomb on them as the Cali cartel had car-bombed Pablo’s family.”
The Cali cartel, based in the Colombian city of Cali in the department of Valle del Cauca, were the main rivals to Escobar’s Medellin Cartel.
“He even kidnapped players from Cali to turn over the Rodriguez brothers (leaders of the Cali Cartel) and, as they did no cooperate, he killed the family of Pedro Sarmiento, who is now a successful coach but did not cooperate.”
Sarmiento made 37 appearances for the Colombian national team and has led Deportivo Cali, America de Cali, Santa Fe, Independiente Medellin and Cucuta Deportivo in his managerial career.
He played for Atletico Nacional and America de Cali during his playing career.
Former hitman Vazquez said that the cartels had “damaged Colombian football a lot”, saying that Escobar had controlled Independiente Medellin while his partner Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha had controlled Millonarios.
He added that the Escobar’s cousins the Gaviria brothers had controlled America de Cali but all the drug lords made Colombian football fail.
Velasquez served a prison sentence on charges of terrorism, drug trafficking, extortion, conspiracy for terrorist purposes and murder.
He was released on August 26, 2014 after 23 years and three months in prison.