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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 18:36

Extradited Colombia paramilitary leader and mafia boss Diego Fernando Murillo, alias "Don Berna," has claimed his brother fired the shot that killed infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, adding a new twist to rumors that have been circulating for years about Escobar's death. 


In a new book titled This Is How We Killed the BossDon Berna claims that he and other members of the People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar (PEPES) -- a group of drug traffickers and paramilitaries he helped form with the objective of hunting down the Medellin Cartel leader -- were with the police that located Escobar on December 2, 1993 and surrounded the premises.

Berna's men then radioed Police Major Hugo Aguilar, who was in charge of the operation, to inform him they had found Escobar, according to his account.

Aguilar was caught in traffic, so Lieutenant Hugo Martinez Bolivar made the decision to enter the residence, taking Escobar and the one bodyguard with him, alias "Limon," completely by surprise. 

When Escobar exited the building through a window in an attempt to flee across the neighbors' rooftop, Berna claims his brother Rodolfo, alias "Semilla," shot him in the head with a 5.56 caliber M-16 rifle. 

Aguilar arrived soon afterwards, congratulated the men, and asked Berna to leave the premises because it was "not convenient" for him to be seen there, recounted the former paramilitary, who has been held in prison in the United States since 2008.

InSight Crime Analysis

The role of the PEPES in hunting down Escobar has long been a murky and controversial side to the story of Escobar's demise.

In the 2001 book "Killing Pablo," author Mark Bowden highlighted how official documents indicate the US-trained Colombian Search Bloc responsible for finding Escobar closely cooperated with the PEPES, even carrying out joint operations with them in the lead-up to Escobar's death. 

SEE ALSO: Don Berna Profile

For years, there have been whispers that the PEPES directly participated in the police operation resulting in Escobar's death, and a former paramilitary made similar claims as Murillo's in 2011. However, another co-founder of the PEPES -- late paramilitary leader Fidel Castaño -- rejected this idea in a 1994 interview with Semana.

While the truth about Escobar's death may never be known, Don Berna was a powerful underworld figure who played a central role in the PEPES and so his account deserves serious consideration. 

Berna's role in the Escobar saga began with his work as the security chief for the Galeano family, associates of Escobar's Medellin Cartel. When Escobar had the Galeano brothers killed for failing to pay him their dues, Murillo sought revenge by forming the PEPES with the Castaño brothers. After Escobar's death, he took over hired assassin network the Oficina de Envigado, which became Medellin's most powerful drug trafficking structure, and later served as a paramilitary boss in various departments.

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 14:00

Homicides in El Salvador have risen by nearly 70 percent in the first half of 2014 as the country's gang truce has slowly died, but the incoming government still has not announced a comprehensive security policy to tackle the post-truce challenges.

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 12:04

Honduran authorities have detained a mayor who allegedly led a criminal organization dedicated to drug trafficking and hired killings, in a case highlighting just how blurred the lines between corrupt officials and organized crime have become in Honduras.

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Monday, 28 July 2014 13:32

The EPL guerrillas have called to be allowed to join Colombia's larger rebel groups in peace talks, but the government is unlikely to be interested in negotiations with these small and heavily criminalized remnants of a once powerful insurgency. 

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00

A Mexico City government program to disarm civilians has been called a success story by officials but has failed to lower gun-related homicides, raising questions about the direct benefits of such gun amnesty initiatives. 

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Monday, 28 July 2014 10:34

A former intelligence chief from Venezuela accused of drug trafficking and ties to Colombia's FARC guerrillas has been released just days after his arrest in Aruba, illustrating the impunity enjoyed by Venezuelan officials with ties to the government.

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Monday, 28 July 2014 09:12

Authorities in Argentina have seized over $13 million in black market merchandise during 2014, highlighting the operations of so-called "buyers' caravans" that bring contraband from Bolivia to supply the Buenos Aires market.

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00

With Mexico preparing to launch one of President Enrique Peña Nieto's signature security initiatives -- the gendarmerie -- a new report questions whether the force can have a genuine impact on the country's security situation.

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Friday, 25 July 2014 17:01

Nicaragua's National Assembly has approved a new law that gives President Daniel Ortega unprecedented control over the country's police force, raising concerns about the institution's independence and increasing the risk of police corruption through political ties.

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Monday, 28 July 2014 00:00

Confrontations between Mexico's marines and criminal groups have doubled over a sixteen-month period, showing the extent to which the authorities have come to rely on the armed forces in the face of the corruption and ineffectiveness of local and federal police

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