Latin America & Caribbean

Pablo Escobar's hired killer 'robbed in Colombia'

Jhon Jairo Velasquez Vasquez, aka "Popeye",in Combita prison, in Boyaca, Colombia on November 22, 2009 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Jhon Jairo Velasquez is a well-known and feared man in Colombia

A man who worked as a hired killer for Colombia's late drug lord Pablo Escobar says he was robbed in Colombia's second-largest city, Medellin.

Jhon Jairo Velasquez, better known as Popeye, said two men on motorbikes pulled up alongside him as he was driving in his car.

They pointed guns at him and robbed him of his luxury brand glasses, two gold bracelets and a mobile phone, he said.

Velasquez was released in 2014 after spending 22 years in prison for murder.

'I did not resist'

Velasquez confessed to killing 300 people and also claimed a hand in up to 3,000 killings in the 1980s and 1990s, when he led a team of hired killers working for the Medellin drugs cartel.

Since his release, he has been living in Medellin and regularly broadcasts messages on his own YouTube channel commenting on everything from Colombian politics to the escape and recapture of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Velasquez has written a book about his former boss and often holds forth on his YouTube channel

Velasquez said it was the second time he had been targeted in such a way but police said he had not reported the incidents.

He said the same had happened to him a few months back but at that time he had managed to knock one of the robbers over with his car.

Velasquez said that this time he did not put up any resistance because his lawyer had advised him to make sure he stayed within the law.

'Afraid of Popeye'

He criticised Medellin mayor Federico Gutierrez for what he said was a lack of security in the city.

"The mayor is an idiot, this city is totally in the hands of these motorcyclists," he said.

In response, Mayor Gutierrez tweeted [in Spanish]: "It's disconcerting that someone who caused so much damage should now lecture me about morality. We are fighting the illegality he helped create."

Residents of Medellin also took to Twitter to marvel at the irony of the man who once caused terror in the city falling victim to crime himself.

One woman suggested starting a collection for the "poor victim" so he could buy a new pair of Cartier glasses while another joked that she hoped he would get psychological help to overcome the shock.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "I'm afraid of Popeye, now I'm in terror and panic of the one who robbed him", one Twitter user wrote

But many others also said that the robbers must have been extremely brazen to target one of the most feared men in the country and wondered what that meant for the security of ordinary citizens.

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