A former hit man for Pablo Escobar who confessed to hundreds of murders as head of the Colombian drug kingpin’s army of assassins has been freed from prison despite protests by his many victims.
The press office for the agency overseeing Colombia’s prison system says John Jairo Velasquez walked free Tuesday night from a maximum security prison north of Bogota. A judge determined him eligible for parole after 22 years behind bars for plotting the murder of a former presidential candidate.
The candidate, cartel-fighting politician Luis Carlos Galan, had been heavily favored to win the 1990 election.
Known as “Popeye,” the 52-year-old Velasquez was among Escobar’s most-trusted lieutenants at the apex of Colombia’s drug violence. He joined the capo’s Medellin cocaine cartel before he turned 18.