18/02/1989
Assassination of Police Colonel Valdemar Franklin

For Richard Franklin, the memory of a man who gave his life in the service of this country has motivated him to continue.

After the religious ceremony, the coffin was taken from Olaya Herrera Airport to Bogotá, where he was buried. Photograph: Wilson Daza.

The colonel died close where the car bomb that killed Antioquia Governor Antonio Roldán was detonated. Photograph: Hernando Vásquez.

The death of Valdemar Franklin meant the loss of one of the people who fought the most against crime. Photograph: El Espectador.

A mass was held on August 18 in the Metropolitan Command, where they rejected the increase in violence. Photograph: El Espectador.

After the religious ceremony, the coffin was taken from Olaya Herrera Airport to Bogotá, where he was buried. Photograph: Wilson Daza.

Pablo Escobar’s hitmen assassinated Police Colonel Valdemar Franklin in Medellín for his determined fight against drug trafficking.

On August 18, 1989, at 6:10 am, Colonel Valdemar Franklin Quintero, Police Major of the Antioquia Police, was assassinated by a group of hitmen who fired machine guns at him while he was waiting for a traffic light to change on Carrera 80 in Medellín.

The 48-year-old colonel was shot 31 times, immediately killing him. His driver and bodyguard, León Enrique Madrid Zea and Miguel Ángel Marín Flórez, were taken to Policlínica and later to the Belén Police Clinic, without major injury.

Strict Application of Justice

The colonel fought against the guerilla, paramilitaries, drug traffickers and all criminals. He led Operación Retorno and Operación Primavera, two large blows to the paramilitary groups of the Middle Magdalena region, shutting down laboratories for processing cocaine.

Additionally, he led operations against the ELN guerrilla group for their attacks on electricity infrastructure in northeast Antioquia and discovered the coca complex of San Luis, located on a 15-km2 farm, which even had its own electric generator.

As well as these and other operations against the Medellín Cartel, in May 1989, he captured the horse expert Fabio Ochoa of Antioquia, father of the drug traffickers Jorge Luis, Juan David and Fabio Ochoa Vásquez. He did the same with Freddy Rodríguez Celade, son of the drug lord Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha, alias “El Mexicano”.

The Cruelty Did Not End

Colonel Franklin died a few blocks from where the car bomb that killed Antioquia Governor Antonio Roldán Betancur had been detonated 45 days before on July 4, 1989. Some versions confirm that this first attack was meant for the police colonel, who when he found out, decided to remove his bodyguards because he wanted to prevent the death of more innocent people in narcoterrorism attacks.

On the same day of his death, the Medellín Cartel assassinated presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento in the municipality of Soacha. Moments later, the government of President Virgilio Barco issued seven decrees of martial law that included the extradition of drug traffickers to the United States through administrative channels.

A Life in the Nation’s Service

At 20 years, Valdemar Franklin graduated as a police office and years later as a second lieutenant. In 1986, he was promoted to colonel. He was also a military attaché at the Colombian Embassy in Spain and an instructor of the Police School in Bogotá. He was a colonel in the divisions of Caldas, Boyacá and Antioquia.

Although the public believed the Medellín Cartel was guilty of the assassination, the Attorney General of Colombia could never prove it. The only person arrested was John Jairo Posada Valencia, alias ‘El Tití’, who confessed to having participated in the crime. He was sentenced to 11 years and 7 months of prison but was murdered at La Picota prison in Bogotá in October 1997.

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