A British mercenary told how he was ready to cut Pablo Escobar’s head off and put it in a basket for a rival cartel for a cut of $1million (£725,000) in a daring plot to assassinate the infamous drug lord.
Escobar was head of the feared Medellin Cartel that terrorised Colombia during the 1980s and 90s and supplied around 80% of the world’s cocaine at its height.
He was listed on Forbes list of billionaires for seven straight years and his cash flow was estimated to be over $3bn (£2.1bn) while his cartel made a profit of more than $7bn (£5.1bn).
But his power also made him a top target for both governments and rival gangs.
Scottish former SAS soldier Peter McAleese was hired in 1989 along with friend Dave Tomkins to put a team together to kill him by the rival Cali cartel, with their story told in the BBC documentary "Killing Escobar", which airs tonight (July 19).
After agreeing to the deal to take out Escobar with the cartel bosses, Tomkins said he was later asked to bring back the head of Escobar, known as "El Padrino".
Tomkins said: "At the last meeting that I had with the cartel bosses, Chepe Londono, who was one of the four came to me and said 'David bring me back Escobar’s head and I’ll give you $1million (£725k) for it'. I said alright.
"It would have been proof he was dead if I brought him his head."
One of Tomkins' own recruits, Alex Lennox who had been in the parachute regiment, in the South African Army, told the documentary he was ready to get the head.
He recalled: "I said to Dave I’ll cut his head off once he’s dead give it you in a basket and you can get the million dollars, I’ll take 100,000."
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During, eleven weeks McAleese trained the group of mercenaries in the Colombian jungle where they had all the guns and armoury that they would need.
When the time came to complete the mission, McAleese said there was no fear about attacking Escobar's fortress as his men had been trained what to do.
He said: "There were 80 men on the premises, we assumed there were 40 on duty and 40 resting. The ammunition they were carrying was 60 rounds per man and it was submachine guns which didn’t have the range of what we had.
"Everyone of the enemy there should be three or four of them so we made up those numbers with ammunition. The capacity of this ordinance was enough to f***ing kill 2,000 or 3,000 guys."
He added: “Let’s go for it. I was so psyched up. People talk about fear, fear was out of the question because we’d conquered it. We’d been training for 11 weeks to get this guy and do this business on him.”
The mission though went badly wrong as the helicopter carrying McAleese crashed in the clouds going over the Andes on the way to Escobar’s ranch.
McAleese was badly injured but escaped after being rescued by his own men before Escobar’s own cartel got their hands on him.
Escobar was finally assassinated in 1993 on a Medellin rooftop after being cornered by the CIA and Colombian authorities.
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