Pablo Escobar: Former soccer player Ricardo Gareca “was in the crosshairs” of the renowned Colombian drug trafficker

Ricardo Gareca, former Argentine footballer and current coach of the Peruvian national team, had an outstanding stint in Colombian football between 1985 and 1989 when “El Tigre” defended the colors of América de Cali.

However, the soccer career of the former striker in Colombia could have been clouded due to the power of drug trafficking in the country, which had Pablo Escobar as its most visible and powerful face.

More than three decades after his time in Colombian soccer, Gareca found out through statements by one of the hitmen of the former leader of the Medellín Cartel who was on the black list of the best-known drug trafficker in history.

“And yes, Ricardo Gareca was always in the sights of Pablo Escobar,” confessed Jhon Jairo Velásquez, better known as “Popeye.”

During an interview with the El Popular newspaper of Peru, who was one of the most feared hitmen in Escobar’s criminal structure revealed that he had the idea of ​​putting a car bomb on some of the players of América de Cali, a team where Gareca played between 1985 and 1989, prior to his return to Argentina.

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“He was a fan of Deportivo Independiente de Medellín (DIM). Of the poor, hard-working and humble people. But when Atlético Nacional played in the Copa Libertadores, all Colombians were fans of that team, “said” Popeye “referring to Pablo Escobar’s passion for soccer.

The hit man also confessed that the drug trafficker closely followed all the players of América de Cali, a soccer rival of the team that Escobar was a fan of.

“We were at war. He even kidnapped players from Cali to hand over the Rodríguez brothers and since they did not cooperate, they killed the family of Pedro Enrique Sarmiento, who is currently a successful coach, but did not cooperate, ”said Jhon Jairo Velásquez.

When in doubt that if Ricardo Gareca, current coach of the Peruvian team, was in the sights of the drug lord, “Popeye” said yes.

“And yes, Ricardo Gareca was always in the sights of Pablo Escobar; however, they did not reach him. The Patron’s love for football saved Ricardo Gareca, because he and the other players from América de Cali were contemplated placing a car bomb on them, since the Cali Cartel placed a car bomb on Pablo’s family, ”he said. .

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After the shocking revelations of the ex-hitman of the Medellín Cartel, who died in 2020 due to esophageal cancer, Ricardo Gareca spoke in the studies of ESPN and commented on what happened.

“I found out over time because Popeye, a hitman from the Pablo Escobar epic, said it. Information came to me, because I do not have social networks, through WhatsApp, about a comment of his that said he had me on the list, “he said.

“El Tigre” commented that he had no knowledge at the time about Pablo Escobar’s intentions to kill him, but he did refer to the rivalry that existed at the end of the 1980s between the most popular and powerful clubs in Colombia.

“I was completely ignorant, at that time rivalries were very normal but later when the real problem broke out I was coming (to Argentina),” said the former soccer player and current technical director.

“Actually, when I come, this whole problem of the cartels explodes. While I was there, there were rivalries, each cartel had a team and from there it is what I knew and had knowledge. Later, that problem explodes and it became more serious. That was told by ‘Popeye’ and I was unaware, “he added.

Gareca was also asked about the chilling revelation made by “Popeye” during a press conference prior to the friendly match between Peru and Chile.

The Argentine coach referred to the confessions made by Jhon Jairo Velásquez.

“These are things that I really don’t have an answer to because if I have to talk about Colombia… I have spent sensational years in my life and those are things that come out after 25 years and I didn’t have any kind of knowledge and I don’t have any kind of knowledge. ”, He commented.

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Ricardo Gareca played for América de Cali between 1985 and 1989, a stage in which he scored 57 goals in 118 games and won two titles in the First Division of Colombian football. Then, in 2005, “El Tigre” returned to Colombia to coach América de Cali for a short period of time.

Jhon Jairo Velásquez, who was directly responsible for the deaths of more than 250 people, confessed that during that time Colombian soccer was dominated by drug trafficking and mafias, which did much damage to the development of the sport in the country.

“They kidnapped players, bought referees, negotiated matches,” they pointed out, a statement that Popeye did not deny: “Pablo Escobar, the Rodríguez family, Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha, they all bought referees. In Colombia there was a mafia in soccer, “commented” Popeye. “

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