After Parole, Colombian Hit Man ‘Popeye’ Profits From Infamy

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Jhon Jairo Velásquez admits he has killed about 300 people and helped murder at least 3,000 more, says the Miami Herald. When you’re a hit man for Pablo Escobar and the infamous Medellín drug cartel, that’s your job. Now free after 23 years in prison, Velásquez has a new job: sharing his blood-soaked story in books, on television and in movies. And next year, Netflix is scheduled to begin broadcasting a 60-part Spanish-language series based on his life. Since his release two years ago, Velásquez, known as “Popeye,” has been busy. His YouTube Channel “Popeye Arrepentido” or, “Remorseful Popeye,” has racked up more than 15 million views. He has two best-selling books and says he is pitching three projects to Hollywood.

But his success is raising difficult questions about rewarding a man with so much blood on his hands, particularly in a country trying to escape its violent past. Speaking from his home in Medellín, Velásquez, 54, said he doesn’t understand the dilemma. “Do you prefer a Popeye who is living off his story, working from 6 a.m. to midnight?” he asked. “Or do you want a Popeye with a gun, trafficking cocaine, kidnapping the rich, setting off car bombs and fighting the police?” He isn’t surprised by his newfound fame. “People aren’t supporting me because I’m an assassin. They’re supporting me because I’ve been rehabilitated.”

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