Latin America & Caribbean

Drug lord Escobar's hitman Jhon Velásquez dies in Colombia

Jhon Jairo Velásquez Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Velasquez claimed to have killed 300 people for drug lord Escobar

A notorious murderer who worked for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar has died of stomach cancer, Colombian officials say.

Jhon Jairo Velásquez, who boasted of killing 300 people for Escobar, was 57.

Known as "Popeye", he was released from prison in 2014 after more than 20 years and launched a YouTube channel, attracting more than a million followers.

But he was jailed again in 2018 on charges of extortion.

Velásquez died at the National Cancer Institute in the capital Bogotá, where he had been receiving treatment for stomach cancer since December.

He was a close associate of Escobar, who ran a drug trafficking empire from the Colombian city of Medellín that sent thousands of tonnes of cocaine to the US.

Velásquez gave himself up to the authorities in 1992 and spent 23 years in prison, reportedly gaining a reputation for the stories he told about his life of crime.

After his release he started a YouTube channel called Repentant.

He was re-arrested for extortion and was taken into custody at a party hosted by Colombia's top drugs trafficking investigator.

Escobar's drug empire made him one of the world's richest men during the 1980s and 1990s. He was killed by Colombian police in 1993 as he attempted to avoid extradition to the US.

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Media captionPablo Escobar's fortress in Medellín was demolished last year

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