17/11/1986
Assassination of Colonel Jaime Ramírez Gómez

That afternoon, Ramírez Gómez was on his way back to Bogotá after spending the weekend in a country house, where he had decided to go with his family to relax after a trip abroad. Photograph: El Espectador

Colonel Jaime Ramírez Gómez led important operations against drug trafficking. His resolve and refusal to participate in corruption led to his assassination by the Medellín Cartel.

Colonel Jaime Ramírez Gómez, director of the Anti-Narcotics Unit of the Colombian Police, was assassinated on November 17, 1986, near Bogotá, when returning from a country house with his wife Helena Méndez Vargas and his sons Javier and Jaime Ramírez Méndez. The vehicle they were traveling in was approached by hitmen, who shot at them. Although Ramírez lost control of the vehicle, his family members escaped unharmed.

Resolve to Fight Drug Trafficking

Ramírez Gómez’s struggle to stop drug trafficking started in 1975 when he arrested Iván Darío Carvalho, who was a member of the first organization that produced and sold cocaine. In his attempt to stop drug trafficking, years later, he shut down a processing laboratory owned by Verónica Rivera de Vargas, known as “The Queen of Cocaine”.

Together with the DEA, Ramírez Gómez planned and led the destruction of Tranquilandia, the world’s largest cocaine processing center, located in Los Llanos del Yari in southern Colombia. The place had an area of 500 hectares, six runways and 19 laboratories for the production of this narcotic.

In Tranquilandia, the drug traffickers managed to refine 23,733 kg of cocaine in just six months.

Both he and Minister of Justice Rodrigo Lara Bonilla made public the entry of drug trafficking money to soccer teams and politics. After this, the threats to kill them increased.

Ramírez Gómez uncovered the first plot to assassinate Lara Bonilla, which was the responsibility of the U.S. citizen Joseph Harold Rosenthal, arrested in Medellín. He also warned the F-2 police intelligence unit about the interception of the minister’s telephone lines by Pablo Escobar. Thanks to his testimony, Escobar was implicated in the assassination of Lara Bonilla on April 30, 1984.

One of his last achievements was discovering that Escobar Gaviria’s hitmen used a series of license plates with the letters KF, which had been stolen from the traffic offices in Itagüí.

The Plot to Assassinate Him

Despite the threats, Jaime Ramírez refused to be protected by bodyguards the weekend he was assassinated, because he thought that the country house he was traveling to was safe. A different version is that a senior official of the Colombian Police told the colonel that the drug traffickers had cancelled their plan to assassinate him and this put his mind at rest.

Pablo Escobar hired members of the Ricardo Franco Front (guerrilla group) to commit this crime for COP 25 million. With this money, they purchased four pistols, a machine gun and a silencer on Medellín’s black market. This material was transferred to Bogotá and stored in a house owned by Pablo Escobar.

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