Pablo Escobar was the leader of the Medellin drugs cartel in Colombia and one of the wealthiest villain’s in history.
He was the biggest manufacturer and distributor of cocaine in the world, responsible for as much as 80% of the global trade in the drug at that time.n 1989 a team of British mercenaries, led by Scotsman Peter McAleese, travelled to the criminal empire of the world’s most dangerous man in order to assassinate him.
A new documentary, “Killing Escobar”, tells the story of the ultimately unsuccessful mission – and the man behind it.
Filmmaker David Whitney said McAleese, who was born in Glasgow in 1942, was a “complex man” who had a lot of “inner turmoil”. He was brought up in Riddrie – on the outskirts of Scotland’s biggest city – and in the shadow of its infamous prison Barlinnie, where his father – a “very tough and violent man” – spent time.
In the film, McAleese, who is now 78, says: “I was trained to kill by the Army but the fighting instinct came from Glasgow.”
McAleese says he left home and joined the Army at 17 to find a way to channel his aggression. He enlisted in the Parachute Regiment and went on to become a member of the elite 22 Regiment SAS.
He served in Borneo with the SAS, fighting in ferocious jungle warfare, before leaving the British Army in 1969, a decision he describes as the worst thing he ever did
McAleese drifted from job to job “not fitting in”. He says he felt lost and his aggression became worse to the point where he was sent to prison for assaulting a girlfriend.
On his release, McAleese sought to recreate the buzz of his military career by finding action as a “mercenary” in the Angolan Civil War and later in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), as well as South Africa.
He met Dave Tomkins in Angola in 1976. Tomkins was not a regular soldier but he knew how to make deals and supply weapons. The unlikely pair became great friends and it was Tomkins who approached McAleese about the mission to kill Escobar.
Jorge Salcedo, a part of rival Colombian drug gang the Cali cartel, was co-ordinating the attack and he wanted Tomkins to recruit a team to carry it out. McAleese was the first person he asked.
“You don’t get asked to assassinate Pablo Escobar unless you have got the right experience,” said McAleese.
“I had no morals about killing him,” he said. “I have never looked upon it as murder. I looked upon it as a target.”
The Cali cartel was confident that Escobar could be killed when he went to his luxurious Hacienda Napoles ranch.
However their desire wasn’t accomplished as their helicopter crashed as they flew into the ranch killing the pilot and other member of the crew.
Mc Alesse did not die but was gravely injured as a result of the crash.