Jhon Jairo "Popeye" Velásquez ended up spending 23 years and 3 months in Colombian prison. Considering the former hitman and lieutenant (and close confidant) for Pablo Escobar was convicted of terrorism, drug trafficking, conspiracy for terrorist purposes, and murder, some people would assume he got off light. In Columbia, there is no death penalty and the maximum sentence someone can receive is 30 years.
Since his release in 2014, Velásquez has not shied away from the limelight. He borders on celebrity status for some people in Columbia, but for the families of the 300 people he admits to killing himself, and the 3,000 other deaths that he helped make possible, it is hard to see him in any other light.
Velásquez currently has a YouTube channel which has nearly 300,000 subscribers. Most of his posts are political in nature and attack the political leaders of Venezuela, Columbia, Mexico, and the United States.
There is very little that the former hitman doesn't want to try at this point, including acting. He recently portrayed a fictional hitman released from prison who has had a contract put on his head by the reigning crime boss of the region (a real theatrical stretch).
"I like to shoot and I like the mafia," he says. "I like the adrenaline and I like crime. I no longer want to do it in the streets; I don't want to kill anyone else. So I'll do it in the movies."
Velásquez has also penned two books which have sold more than 225,000 copies. He also took part in a TV series that chronicles his life.
Jhon Jairo Velásquez, Pablo Escobar’s former top hitman nicknamed ‘Popeye’, died of stomach cancer on Thursday 6th February 2020 according to Columbian officials.
Hero or killer, the Colombian people are split on the issue.