Pablo Escobar’s most feared hitman has revealed that a British businessman who is serving time for a 1986 double murder was actually framed by the Medellín drug cartel.
Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, better known as "Popeye" and responsible for more than 300 murders, has stated that 75-year-old Krishna "Kris" Maharaj has been wrongly imprisoned for the brutal murder of his two business associates in a Miami Hotel.
The revelation comes as Maharaj’s legal team ramps up its case to overturn his conviction under the argument that new evidence shows the murders were carried out by hitmen working for Escobar.
"Velásquez said he wanted to clear his conscience, he wanted to say who had killed the Moo Youngs," Henry Cuervo, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who received a phone call from Velásquez said. "He said it was Pablo Escobar and his people.'
Velásquez was one of Escobar's most-trusted lieutenants during the campaign of terror, joining the capo's Medellín cocaine cartel before he turned 18.
As Colombia's bloody cocaine turf wars faded from memory, Velásquez liked to boast in frequent interviews from prison that he had killed 300 people with his own hands, including his own wife, and helped plan another 3,000 hits.
He had spent 22 years behind bars for plotting the murder of a former presidential candidate, Luís Carlos Galán during the campaign for the 1990 presidential election before his release earlier this year from prison. He now lives in a secret location.
"As a lieutenant of Pablo Escobar Gaviria, with whom I worked shoulder to shoulder, he told me directly that they had stolen his money and that of his partners and that therefore 'they had to die'," Velásquez said of the killing of Derrick and Duane Moo Young for which Maharaj has been convicted.
Florida Circuit Court Judge William Thomas heard testimonies Thursday from a number of people asserting that Maharaj is innocent. Maharaj’s legal team argues that new evidence shows the Moo Youngs were money launderers who stole from Escobar's Medellín cartel.
Along with the evidence, a former Medellín cartel enforcer, a former U.S. government informant and an American pilot who flew cocaine shipments for the cartel all testified that Maharaj was innocent of the murder.
"I am 100 percent sure that ... Kris Maharaj had nothing to do with the assassinations," Jorge Maya, the cartel enforcer said in a taped Skype interview from Colombia.
Maharaj was convicted because fingerprints of his were found in the hotel room and was known to have a long running feud with Derrick Moo Young. He spent 15 years on death row before his sentence was commuted to life in 2002 due to misconduct between the trial judge and prosecutors.