In our June 7 Facebook Live session, Investigator Sergio Saffon and Managing Editor Josefina Salomón analyzed the criminal legacy of Pablo Escobar and the significance of the recent cases against some of his most intimate allies.
Saffon described the history behind the May 25 arrest in Medellín, Colombia, of Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, alias “Popeye,” who claims to have been a prolific hitman for Escobar.
Popeye was apprehended on charges of extortion and criminal conspiracy. According to information obtained by InSight Crime from a source associated with Oficina de Envigado -- a network of criminal organizations in Medellín that controls most of the city’s underworld -- Popeye extorted money from the late Escobar’s frontmen, who had continued to maintain assets linked to the illicit activities of the Medellín cartel. This was confirmed by authorities in Popeye’s trial following his detention.
SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles
Saffon and Salomón also discussed the implications of another case linked to Escobar’s inner circle. This week, a federal judge in Argentina opened a case against Escobar's widow, María Isabel Santos Caballero, and his son, Sebastián Marroquín, who have been living in the country since the mid-1990s.
Both are accused of “providing essential support” to an operation that laundered millions of dollars from the illicit earnings of José Piedrahita Ceballos, a suspected Colombian drug lord currently in custody in Colombia awaiting extradition to the United States.
SEE ALSO: Argentina News and Profile
Saffon explained how the figure of Piedrahita exemplifies the new generation of drug trafficking bosses who conduct their illegal activities far from the public eye, contrary to Escobar’s more brazen style.
The InSight Crime expert, part of a team that investigated the phenomenon, gave details on how these “invisible” bosses operate and explained some of the reasons why Argentina has been favored as a good country for money laundering.
Saffon and Salomón also analyzed how the new arrests and criminal cases could motivate drug trafficking leaders to once again review and update their operational strategies.
Watch the complete Facebook Live discussion in Spanish below: