Pablo Escobar's Top Hitman Reveals How He Blew Up 110 People
Pablo Escobar's top enforcer has revealed how he and the cartel blew up 110 people with a briefcase bomb.
The mass killing in 1989 was part of a plot to assassinate then presidential candidate, Cesar Gaviria, who supported extraditing Colombian drug dealers to the US to face prosecution.
The politician was supposed to be travelling aboard a domestic Avianca airlines flight from Bogota to Cali, however, his security prevented him from boarding.
Escobar's cartel had duped a man into opening a briefcase bomb mid-flight and all 107 passengers were killed, plus three more people on the ground who were crushed by falling debris.
Jhon Jairo Velasquez Vasquez, nicknamed 'Popeye', was the drug lord's highest-ranking hitman during the 80s, and he has described the briefcase bomb as a 'work of art'.
Speaking to the Daily Beast from inside prison, the 56-year-old explained how he worked with cartel members Carlos Urquijo, Carlos Castano Gil and Cuco Zabala to execute the plot.
He said: "That briefcase was a work of art. Castano deceived a young man and told him that he should open his briefcase in the air when the plane took off and began to climb.
"He told him that the briefcase held a tape recorder and that when he opened it the device would be activated to grab the conversations of certain passengers.
"That there were some Americans aboard, and the mafia needed to know about an extradition case they were carrying out.
"The dupe had already held a briefcase with a complex recorder in his hands and saw how it worked.
"Castano had already given him several examples, to deceive him more easily. When the briefcase opened in the air, the bomb was activated."
Popeye said he handpicked the man's seat in order to ensure maximum damage.
He said: "Carlos knew I'd bought the ticket for the duped young man and got him just the right seat.
"We were all aware that if the bomb exploded in the wrong place it wouldn't ignite the plane's fuel tanks, and the captain could save the plane.
"So we created a domino effect with the fuel stored in the wings of the plane, the dynamite in the briefcase and the pressurisation of the aircraft - a lethal composition.
"The plane was totally destroyed, but the candidate lived. Maybe his guardian angel saved him that night."
A lowly hitman, Dandenys Munoz Mosquera, received multiple life sentences for the bombing and served decades behind bars, until Popeye's eventual testimony exonerated him.
Popeye served 23 years in prison but was released in 2014, before being arrested once more as part of an extortion investigation.
He has admitted to murdering 300 people and ordering the deaths of thousands more.
Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez