BOGOTA – The soon-to-be-paroled former top enforcer for late drug lord Pablo Escobar has asked Colombian authorities for protection, the national ombudsman’s office said Tuesday.
With 22 years behind bars, John Jairo Velasquez Vasquez, aka “Popeye,” has served 60 percent of his sentence, meeting the requirement for parole eligibility.
A judge in the central city of Tunja granted his parole application and he is due to leave Combita, Colombia’s toughest prison, once he posts a bond of 9 million pesos ($4,700).
Popeye has acknowledged in interviews from prison that he killed at least 300 people and arranged for another 3,000 homicides on behalf of Escobar, who died in 1993 in a shootout with police.
“In his own hand he asked (authorities) to protect his right to life,” the ombudsman’s office said of the request from Velasquez.
The warden at Combita prison also formally asked police in Tunja to take measures to protect Velasquez on his release.
The national ombudsman’s office said it has already contacted the appropriate authorities to arrange security measures for Popeye’s release.