Government Forces Shoot Dead Drug Trafficker Who Escaped With Escobar
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Government forces shot to death a notorious drug trafficker in Medellin on Wednesday, more than a year after he broke out of jail with narcotics kingpin Pablo Escobar.
The slaying of Alfonso Puerta Munoz, alias The Angel, further weakened the Medellin cartel, once the world’s largest cocaine-distributing organization. Nowadays the rival Cali cartel has assumed that role, controlling an estimated 80 percent of world cocaine markets.
Puerta was among nine inmates who broke out of jail in July 1992 with Escobar. The other eight escapees have either turned themselves in or been killed. Escobar himself remains a fugitive.
Puerta and his brother Jaime Alberto were killed Wednesday by members of an elite army and police corps whose mission is to track down Escobar. The news was confirmed by Gen. Octavio Vargas, Colombia’s acting police chief, in an interview with CMI TV news program.
A close confident of Escobar’s, the Angel had assumed leadership of the cartel’s military wing following the killings of other cartel henchmen. The government had offered the equivalent of $125,000 for information leading to his arrest.
Puerta was wanted in Colombia for the crimes of breaking jail, illegal weapons possession and kidnapping. He was also being investigated for drug trafficking.
Puerta had surrendered to authorities on July 4, 1991, 15 days after Escobar gave himself up. Many Medellin cartel leaders surrendered that year in exchange for promises of light jail sentences.
But Escobar and the nine others escaped during a bungled government attempt to transfer them to a more secure facility. The cocaine lords had turned their so-called jail in the hills surrounding Medellin into a luxurious command center for the cartel.
Vargas said the Puerta brothers died in an exchange of gunfire with government forces. There were no casualties reported on the government’s side.