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Former SAS Operative Peter McAleese Describes How He Was Sent To Kill Pablo Escobar

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Former SAS Operative Peter McAleese Describes How He Was Sent To Kill Pablo Escobar

A former SAS operative who was tasked with killing notorious drug lord and Medellin cartel leader Pablo Escobar has opened the lid on his remarkable story.

Speaking on podcast Anything Goes with James English, Peter McAleese explained how he was hired as a mercenary in 1992 and asked to train a team that would fly into Escobar's territory with the express mission of killing the infamous gangster.

However, disaster struck and their helicopter crashed upon approach to Escobar's compound, leaving McAleese injured and another man dead.

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Now, he's explained how he managed to get the job after meeting and striking up a friendship with a man called Dave Tomkins, who had been offered one million dollars for the cartel boss' head.

A wanted poster offering a large reward for Pablo Escobar. Credit: PA
A wanted poster offering a large reward for Pablo Escobar. Credit: PA

McAleese explained: "We flew straight to Colombia and met up with a guy called Jorge Salcido and he briefed us on what was happening.

"We went to see two businessmen who - in reality - were part of the Cali cartel.

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"There was an ongoing battle between the Cali cartel and the Medellin cartel and they just wanted Pablo out of the way because he was gunning for them because he wanted the complete show.

"There was also army involvement in that Jorge Salcido was a colonel in the army.

"The intelligence side of the army wanted the two cartels finished and thought they'd get them battling with one another, they might wipe each other out."

Peter McAleese. Credit: Anything Goes with James English
Peter McAleese. Credit: Anything Goes with James English
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So, they requested M16 rifles and rocket launchers, and they were provided. It was 'like Christmas' according to McAleese.

After a tactical training period on an estate and a live firing training camp in the jungle, they set off to kill one of the most notorious criminals the world has ever known. ,

Travelling in two helicopters disguised in army colours, the 12-strong team left for their assault on the complex.

McAleese explained: "A lot of his [Escobar's] bodyguards and security guys were just guys that ran about with a magazine in their belt and carrying an Uzi or some sub-machine gun.

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"We went in there carrying enough ammunition to kill the best part of 3,000 men. We were tooled up to the eyeballs, plus the fact that we had a helicopter gunship, which we thought would level it all down.

"The confidence was on our side, it was never doubted by any of the men."

Pablo Escobar in 1988. Credit: PA
Pablo Escobar in 1988. Credit: PA

In an early misfortune, the news hit the press before the strike because of an interview given by a member of the team who left the group, but he didn't know who the target was.

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Only McAleese and one other person knew that.

However, it still left a feeling of betrayal.

"We could have all been killed because he wanted his ego fed," he said.

Then, on the way to the final mission, during which they had to dodge army and police radars due to the fear they were on Escobar's payroll, their helicopter crashed, killing the pilot.

The team were left stranded in the jungle in the wreck of their aircraft. McAleese himself was injured and collapsed, fearing that he might never make it out.

He said: "When they left [to get help] I realised that I'd broken one of the rules of combat survival. Someone should have stayed with me.

"The pain was f***ing excruciating.

"I started thinking 'what the f*** am I doing here, how did it get myself into this s***?'

"I heard some voices coming, and I didn't know if they were good guys or bad guys, all I heard was Spanish.

"I said 'if the bad guys get me, they will make my death very painful.'

"So, I took a grenade and pulled the pin out, then grabbed a sub-machine gun and held it in one hand.

"They didn't see me and I stuck the machine gun in his stomach."

Someone did eventually manage to kill Pablo Escobar. Credit: PA
Someone did eventually manage to kill Pablo Escobar. Credit: PA

Luckily for Peter, it turned out to be his friends.

After a gruelling trip down from the mountains, he managed to get to safety. However, despite initially resolving to take the challenge on once again, they never made it back to Escobar's remote home turf.

McAleese concluded: "We [had] decided to have another go, but things were getting too hot.

"The police and the army had picked up, there was all sorts of accusations getting made [as to] who was behind it.

"They just said 'I think we'd better let you go', so we came back to the UK.

"I don't know how I felt about it. I was just glad to get back."

Escobar was killed in 1993 by Colombian police. Credit: PA
Escobar was killed in 1993 by Colombian police. Credit: PA

Pablo Escobar was eventually killed in an operation by the Colombian National Police in 1993, just days before his 44th birthday.

You can hear the full version of Peter McAleese's remarkable story, as well as many others from his long career, on the latest episode of Anything Goes with James English on YouTube.

Featured Image Credit: PA/Anything Goes with James English

Topics: World News, UK News, army, south america, Interesting, Pablo Escobar, crime, Drugs

Tom Wood
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