Y:O’s Johnny Proctor interviews a former hitman to Pablo Escobar
Y:O’s Johnny Proctor interviews a former hitman to Pablo Escobar
On his recent travels to and around south America YOUR:OWN’s writing troubadour and general geezer Johnny Proctor returns to blighty with this quite incredible interview from Madellian, Columbia with an actual ex-Medellin cartel hit man. A man who served under the infamous Pablo Escobar here Johnny delivers this ‘mind-blowing’ Q&A talking to a man who has most probably killed more people than you’ve had hot dinners in 2015. Real talk. YO Mag presents ‘When Johnny met Freddy’
When you get a chance to speak with a sicario who served his time in the early 90’s carrying out murders for Pablo Escobar’s feared Medellin Cartel. You do so with a certain degree of trepidation and anxiety, understandably! What you definitely DON’T expect to find is to find yourself talking DJ Seth Troxler & Newcastle United with them! Through a connection struck up in Colombia and after weeks of frustrating lost in translation arranging. (Fuck you Google translate too while I’m at it) I was put in touch with one such dangerous but very much retired hit man. A resident of the Communa 13 barrio in Medellin. I present to you, Freddy Cordova.
Hola Freddy. Gracias for agreeing to the interview, I’ve heard lots about you the past few days.
**laughing** All bad I hope!
So what pulled you into a life of performing hits for La Oficina and Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel?
The usual answer around Medellin from most would be, no job and no prospects and who knows? That could and probably WOULD have been the reason anyway but I fell,actually pulled, into being a sicario with revenge. My younger cousin Rafa was killed by a stray bullet fired by a sicario working for the Cali Cartel on a job here in Medellin. I was filled with huge anger and wanted revenge on them. I didn’t know the name of his killer and never found out. I didn’t care really, anyone would do. An eye for an eye si? Once I was in with La Oficina. I was in.
What age were you when you got into the business?
It was 1991, just turned 18. This was an average age at the time for a rookie sicario in Colombia although as things have changed in the country for cartels & organised crime operations the age has dropped even lower still. For some it’s simply a way of life, normality. They see kids their age earning more for one murder than the average worker earns in 2-3 months. Kids see their friends wearing designer clothes, buying xboxes and Playstations and paying for their mothers rent. You can see the attraction and lure brother si?
What was your first cartel order that you were given?
I was given the job of riding the motorcycle whilst my mentor sat behind with the guitar (uzi) ,the little girl (victim) was a journalist who had been snooping into El Patron (Escobar) and his dealings with Millonarios (the Colombian football club he owned at the time) with accusations that he had been laundering his parrot (cocaine) money into the club. Escobar wanted him gone. The hit wasn’t successful although through no fault of my own I say in defence. I had the bike as close to the journalists car as possible but my mentors guitar jammed at the crucial moment and the chance was lost. No matter, the little girl was killed by another sicario a few days later. If the instructions were passed down. They were dead from that moment. Only a matter of time si? I carried out 3 hits as the driver before I then got the chance to be the one with the guitar.
How active were you and the other sicarios during this time?
When it was at its craziest I’d say I had to deal with a little girl around once a week but understand? There was lots of sicarios out there on the streets working for many cartels so there were murders every single day. Including sicarios from rivaI cartels. I watched a show on the Discovery Channel once that said there was a hit every 3 hours in Medellin but that is just media shit talk. Everyday though? During the early 90’s? Without a doubt brother. The start of the 90’s was like Jesse James and Billy the Kid man. Some times you never knew if you were going to see your bed at night when you got out of it in the morning.
Had you ever fired a gun before?
Never in my life brother. I and a few others were taken out into the jungle at the start and taught by some Israeli special forces. Flown in specially to train the sicarios. Others by Russian Spetznaz. Shit? Even ex SAS from England. There really was no limits to where El Patrons money could stretch to or what he could buy. He wanted the best and got it. Beretta’s, Desert Eagles, Uzi’s, Kalashnikovs. It was crazy man.
Your job, stripping it down. Was to take others lives. Were you ever in danger for yours?
Every day. You spent more time looking over your shoulder than ahead of you at times. You needed two sets of eyes, one for the front and one for the back and even if you did you could still be taken out by a rival sicario coming from the side! It was a crazy jungle. Medellin was called Cuidad de la Muerte (City of death) you think that was an accident si? If you killed then it was only fair that someone might do the same to you, right? Let’s be clear. Sure. You kill a politician or journalist then what revenge are their family going to exact on you? Nada. Kill a rival cartel? Much difference. So easy to end up with a price on your head brother. You just kill the wrong person, you know? I stopped going out at night to clubs for fear of bumping into rival cartel members. Not good Johnny, nada nada as those were the best places for girls, you know? Colombian girls LOVE sicarios because they know two things. That we have money and want pussy!
Were you ever caught by the police?
(Laughing away to himself) I was arrested once for smoking marijuana!! Can you believe that? I murdered more people than I can even now remember yet the only time I was ever caught by the police was for marijuana in a country full of fucking parrot! Due to the power and influence of El Oficina Envigado & Escobar’s Medellin Cartel. Even being pinched for murder was no guarantee of prison. You know of Escobar’s two options to the police and judges right? Plato o Plomo ( Silver or lead, which is pretty much self explanatory) Most didn’t have to think twice on that choice and very rarely did anyone choose Plomo. Only loco fools with their principles chose the second option. Their principles weren’t of much interest to Escobar **laughs**
How easy was it to leave the lifestyle? Didn’t your boss have a problem with this?
I was lucky. Most don’t get out of the business once they’re in. Bosses won’t let them leave as sicarios have too much incriminating information that could leave the bosses in sticky situations at a later time. Any cartel members that do leave, and there’s been some, do so by disappearing and never coming back to Colombia. Shortly after El Patrons death in 93 when the fighting began in the city to take over his operation between La Oficina & El Urabenos I saved the life of my capo in a planned assassination on him. This got me a favour owed from him that I could call on when I needed. When I decided that I wanted to get out of the business, reasoning that it was a miracle I had survived so long. I called it in.
What was your Capo’s name?
** Laughing at my stupidity!** Come on man you know I’m not going to tell you that?!
Sicarios generally keep their mouths shut and don’t talk about their past due to cartel codes of conduct. Why agree to speak with me?
I mean you no disrespect when I say that you do not seem to be like other journalists. I am only doing this for my brother Gustavo (who had been the intermediary to the interview) and he described you as more street than Wall Street, si? Journalists who have been known to poke their nose into cartel business over the years seem to have their noses pointed to the sky or their heads up their ass and you have neither. My brother said you were more one of us than one of them. I read some of your articles. Crazy but good crazy! No mistake though man. Had you not agreed to my absolute requirement that you did not get to know my real name or write any information that could result in me being convicted for past crimes we would not be doing this. **He then throws me the outrageous curveball** One of the main reasons I agreed to the interview though is that my brother told me that you are a fan of Seth Troxler. He’s my favourite house music DJ!
** Laughing at how this interview is ending up** I saw him this year headlining his own A.N.T.S tent at the dance festival Creamfields in England, it was quite a special 90 minutes from him.
Ok, next year you get me a ticket and we go si? I’ve been to Buenos Aires Creamfields but England is its home!
The surreal nature of where this interview has taken in direction, not lost on me I agree to get him a Creamfields ticket before getting us back on track – Did you ever meet Pablo Escobar in person?
Never, Sicarios were his soldiers. They were the guys who done his dirty work for him. With the attention that he got from the authorities not to mention the fucking Americans (DEA & CIA) only a fool would be photographed with young men from the Medellin barrios who were suspected of assassinating high ranking politicians and police officers at his request. The sicarios understood completely. Basically if a low level guy like me ever did come into contact with him we’d either done something truly special for the cartel or in all probability fucked up big.
What kind of money did you make in your role as hit man?
We were paid a flat salary of around £500 a month then would receive an additional payment of between £1000 & £3000 per hit depending on which little girl it was we were given. Politicians, police and generally those that had become a real pain in the ass to the cartel we were paid the £3000 right down to rival cartel members with £1000 placed on their heads.
You make it sound a little like being a car salesman?
**laughs** It kind of was! Some sicarios could get real bitchy when they thought others were getting the better paid more attractive hits. Talking behind the capos backs accusing them of having their pets who they’d give the more lucrative jobs to!
Did you ever have any remorse for those that you killed?
You know friend? Not one single murder I carried out did I ever feel bad about. Sure, the first few had an effect on me in terms of bad dreams but it all became everyday shit to me. My first hit when I was the one on the back of the motorbike. The driver got too close to the car and when I killed the little girl I ended up covered in their blood. I started with nightmares of me being soaked in blood but they soon passed.
Still living in Communa 13 today what are the differences you see today compared to the crazy times of the early 90’s when the goings on in Colombia made the news worldwide at times on a daily basis?
The main difference is that the cartels, they operate in a different way now. Different business strategy. Now they sell to the Mexicans and let them worry about the parrot. Colombia is still the country that produces more coca than any other in the world but almost half of the product is now sold directly to the Sinaloa cartel who now flood America and Europe with parrot as opposed to the old days of the Medellin, Cali & Bogota crews and the trouble they had against the DEA and other international law enforcement agencies. Now we have close links between the Colombian manufacturers and the biggest and most powerful cartel in the world. They work together not apart. Colombia provides manpower to the Mexicans when required. Sicarios will travel out of Colombia now to perform hits for the Mexicans. Here in Colombia we laugh at the amateur work of the Mexican hit men and death squads. Rolling up in Hummers spraying targets and anyone unlucky to be there with hundreds of bullets where us? Two, three shots and bang bang bang. Buenos noches!
What do you hope to do in the future? What’s your ambition?
You know? Pretty much every Hollywood movie you see that has cartels as part of the story are complete bullshit. Total fantasy. I’d love to be a consultant for movies and television shows. My real dream is to write a book on my time as a sicario but that would be a death sentence. Hey! I got out of the business. I’m not going to push my luck!
And look at me completely not offering any help when it comes to ghost writing it if you do decide to do it. You’re on your own señor!
I’m sure the readers would love to know? What does a cartel hitman do for fun? Obviously you weren’t riding around firing guitars killing politicians 24/7.
Well, I like dancing, Socialising, drinking, playing playstation. Probably the same stuff as you. I also love the English football, (EPL) my team is Newcastle United, because my idol Tino Asprilla played there once.
Do you remember the night he scored the hat trick against Barcelona in the champions league?
Are you fucking kidding me? His tripleta! That was his most famous of matches for The Toon?! EVERYONE in Colombia knows of that match!
**I decide against reminding him how bad his adopted team are doing this season**
Well thanks once again for agreeing to this interview Freddy. Never in my life did I ever think I’d hear someone who used to run with cartel death squads say the words “The Toon” in any context so thank you for that! In the space of half an hour you’ve completely changed my perception on what a Colombian hit man is like!
**laughing** Ahh you thought you were meeting a Popeye si? ( Pablo Escobar’s much outspoken ex Sicario) You’re welcome my friend. Years ago I’d have killed a journalist in a heartbeat had I been told to but si, you’re cool Johnny. I look forward to reading the interview brother!
Follow Johnny Proctor on Twitter – https://twitter.com/johnnyroc73