1984
Hitmen

La explosión de un carrobomba en frente del edificio Mónaco dio inicio a la guerra entre carteles de droga. Foto: El Mundo.

Aunque el Mónaco fue construido como un búnker, la estructura no colapsó por la explosión de los 200 kilos de dinamita. Foto: El Mundo.

Según Juan Pablo Escobar, el hijo de Pablo Escobar, al lugar donde se encontraban llegaron pedazos del chasis del carro bomba. Foto: El Mundo.

The hitmen were responsible for attacking politicians, police officers, judges, journalists, lawyers and civilians in the middle of the narcoterrorism war in the 1980s and 1990s.

Although the culture of hitmen became notorious in Colombia in 1984, its appearance dates back to 1948. At that time, when the followers of the Liberal and Conservative parties were in conflict, they were known as pájaros.

The Prisco Lopera brothers were the first hitmen to work for Pablo Escobar. From the Aranjuez neighborhood in the capital of Antioquia, they became the military apparatus of the Medellín Cartel. These criminals, known as Los Priscos, became visible on April 30, 1984, when they assassinated Minister of Justice Rodrigo Lara Bonilla.

They were held responsible for the assassination of Judge Tulio Manuel Castro Gil; Magistrate Hernando Baquero Borda; the journalist Guillermo Cano, editor-in-chief of El Espectador; Inspector General of Colombia Carlos Mauro Hoyos; Governor of Antioquia Antonio Roldán Betancur; and Police Colonel Valdemar Franklin Quintero; as well as for the bombing of the Administrative Department of Security (DAS, for the Spanish original) in Bogotá; the kidnapping of the candidate to be Mayor of Bogotá, Andrés Pastrana; and the kidnapping of the journalists Diana Turbay, Azucena Liévano and Francisco Santos. They were also connected to multiple bomb attacks during the war between the drug cartels of Cali and Medellín, and against the Colombian state.

The Refinement of Violence

Los Priscos had an army of more than 300 men ready to execute any plan in exchange for money, which would allow them to achieve their personal aspirations. With the aim to commit increasingly more violent crimes, some of these hitmen, who also worked for Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha, the Castaño brothers and the “emerald czar” Víctor Carranza, received training from Israeli and British mercenaries.

At the end of the eighties, other groups sprung up, including Los Quesitos and Los Magníficos. These evolved to become gangs such as La Terraza or La Oficina, which remained active after the drug lord’s death.

Despite the time that has passed since the groups of hitmen arose, this structure is still alive, which created a culture of easy money and continues to take dozens of lives today, as well as reinforcing a stigma that particularly affects young people from poor neighborhoods.

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