Jhon Jairo Velásquez, hitman to Pablo Escobar, renowned Colombian drug baron, has passed away.
The 57-year-old better known as ‘Popeye’ died of stomach cancer at the National Cancer Institute in Bogota, Colombia’s capital, in the early hours of Thursday, Colombian outlet La FM reported, citing a statement from the country’s National Penitentiary and Prison Institute.
Popeye was diagnosed of esophageal cancer on New Year’s eve and was referred to the institute where he had been receiving treatment before his death.
His death comes after being in prison for 23 years following his confession to various allegations pressed against him.
He is widely renowned for his romance with Escobar, whom he had a strong bond with until he was killed on December 2, 1993 after sustaining injury from gunshots.
‘Popeye’ is also said to have confessed to killing upwards of 300 people in Colombia during his time working for Escobar’s cartel.
In 2005, Popeye wrote a book titled “Surviving Pablo Escobar: ‘Popeye’ The Hitman, 23 Years and 3 Months in Prison’, where he reflected on his relationship with the late drug baron as well as his experiences at the Medellín cartel.
He gained spotlight after giving up himself to government authorities in 1992 and consequently launched ‘Repentant’– a YouTube channel with over one million subscribers — where he expresses controversial views on socio-political issues in Colombia.
Velásquez, on his website, described himself as “another person,” who learned from his life of crime.
“I am repentant and determined to help build the truth for those who lived the reality of the Medellin of the ’80s and ’90s firsthand,” he wrote.
“I wake up daily and with the decision to show the scars that make me what I am but do not define what I will be today and tomorrow.”
After several years of imprisonment, Popeye was released in 2014 but was rearrested again in 2018 and whisked to prison after his indulgence in criminal activities including extortion.
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