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‘Killing Escobar’: The incredible true story of the British mercenaries hired to kill Pablo Escobar

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‘Killing Escobar’: The incredible true story of the British mercenaries hired to kill Pablo Escobar

COLOMBIA - AUGUST 29:  Eleven hippos, which belonged to the Medellin cartel leader Pablo Escobar was killed in a clash with police twelve years ago, live abandoned to their fate in the north-western Colombia, among displaced families. Maria Isaza and his family settled in the Hacienda Napoles, former Escobar property, seized by the state in 1990, who had established a private zoo; according to this family, the animals roam around in the property unattended; Escobar, known for his eccentricities, had come by sea animals in 1970 to enrich the zoo staff had 1,900 different species; he had to import a hippopotamus from Africa and one female from the USA; The couple had nine hippos small for fourteen lakes that were built to enhance the living animal in Medellin, Colombia on August 29th, 1989.  (Photo by Eric VANDEVILLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The hacienda of Pablo Escobar (circa 1989) (Eric VANDEVILLE/Gamma-Rapho by device of Getty Photographs)

Early Newspaper

At the height of the Colombian drug wars in 1989, a little non-public military of mainly British ex-servicemen were hired to execute Colombian drug boss Pablo Escobar.

The non-public unit — led by worn SAS man Peter McAleese — used to be armed to the teeth, funded by a rival drug cartel and despatched into the jungle to wage war against the gangster to blame for an estimated 4,000 deaths and 80 p.c of the international cocaine alternate at the time.

Now the incredible story of Operation Phoenix has been told on camouflage in the shapely contemporary feature documentary Killing Escobar, premiering on BBC Two (9pm, 19 July) and iPlayer. 

The film entails breathtaking archive photos of McAleese’s battle-hardened unit gathering in the Colombian jungle to put together for armed assault against Escobar’s Hacienda Napoli home.

Programme Name: Killing Escobar - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1/1) - Picture Shows: Peter McAleese  - (C) Two Rivers Media - Photographer: David Whitney

Peter McAleese shares his story in Killing Escobar (Two Rivers Media/David Whitney)

At the time, drug lord Escobar — now not too prolonged ago portrayed on camouflage in fracture hit Netflix series Narcos — used to be head of the Medellin drug cartel and one of the most wanted men on Earth, with 1,000,000 greenback bounty on his head.

His rivals at the Cali drug cartel wanted him out of the formula and hired British security contractor Dave Tomkins to safe him out. He then contacted McAleese to assign a crew together.

As McAleese, now 78, recalled: “It situation my heart pumping. I used to be genuinely up for it.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - SEPTEMBER 6:  An image taken 06 September 1989 from Colombian television of a wanted advertisement for Medellin drug cartel leaders Pablo Escobar and Gonzalo Rodriguez.  (Photo credit should read CARLOS LEMA/AFP via Getty Images)

An image taken 06 September 1989 from Colombian tv of a wanted advertisement for Medellin drug cartel leaders Pablo Escobar and Gonzalo Rodriguez. (CARLOS LEMA/AFP by device of Getty Photographs)

“David came to me and acknowledged, ‘Are you mad by doing a job’. I never requested what it used to be, I good acknowledged yes, and then he acknowledged ‘Rep you’ll need to scurry to Colombia?’ and I acknowledged yes and he outlined the job.

“I knew of him (Escobar) in passing, I’d read the habitual allotment in the paper however I didn’t know a stout deal.”

Read more: Escobar’s hippos terrorise Colombian waters

Having served in the paras regiment since he used to be 17, then joined the SAS and travelled around the world serving in non-public military forces, McAleese recruited 11 worn comrades for the lethal task.

While it used to be funded by the Cali cartel, McAleese claims it used to be with the tacit approval of UK and US governments.

Wagner Moura's Pablo Escobar and Juan Pablo Raba's right-hand man Gustavo in Narcos. (Netflix)

Wagner Moura’s Pablo Escobar and Juan Pablo Raba’s appropriate-hand man Gustavo in Narcos. (Netflix)

Feeble DEA agent agent Javier Pena — one of the precise Narcos hunters portrayed in the Netflix series — agreed, and commented in the film: “Once we heard about this knowing, of course we wanted him stupid. So any effort to kill Pablo Escobar used to be of course welcomed. We wanted it to occur.”

The men touched down in Cali in March 1989. They tooled up and moved out to a special camp in Antioquia, nearer Escobar’s Medellin headquarters.

At their jungle frightening, they trained with a large cache of weapons, secured a helicopter painted in local police livery and challenging for the assault.

Colombian police and military forces storm the rooftop where drug lord Pablo Escobar was shot dead just moments earlier during an exchange of gunfire between security forces and Escobar and his bodyguard 02 December 1993. The death of Escobar and the bodygaurd ends a 16-month hunt for Escobar, who controlled one of the world's most ruthless drug trafficking empires. (Photo credit should read JESUS ABAD-EL COLOMBIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

Colombian police and military forces storm the rooftop where drug lord Pablo Escobar used to be shot stupid in December 1993. (JESUS ABAD-EL COLOMBIANO/AFP by device of Getty Photographs)

The crew were on $5,000 a month basic pay and organiser Tomkins used to be told a further million greenback bonus used to be payable for Escobar’s head.

All the whereas intellectual that any crawl of security could moreover lead Escobar’s notorious enforcer squaddies, or Sicarios, to their location.

McAleese acknowledged: “The formula I appeared at it used to be we trained to attain a job. We trained for 11 solid weeks, practicing hitting that location and maintaining every eventuality.

A boy smiles in the Pablo Escobar neighborhood -500 houses built by the Colombian drug lord for the poor- in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on August 22, 2008. A tour operator created the

A boy smiles in the Pablo Escobar neighborhood -500 properties constructed by the Colombian drug lord for the heart-broken- in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on August 22, 2008 (RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP by device of Getty Photographs)

“We outlined the areas of his home in the grounds and each person took totally different sections and we modified ranks and each person did a special job each time we did a rehearsal, so if somebody went down, we could change him.

“I felt they (Escobar’s men) had guys who were trained to go about with submachine guns. Some of them had been squaddies however now not professional squaddies, presumably they had carried out their national provider.”

He added: “If we didn’t get dangle of this appropriate, it could perhaps most likely backfire on us. 

I’ve never seen as worthy coaching carried out in my military profession, bearing in mind it used to be greatest for the at some point.”

FILE PHOTO AUG83 - Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and his wife Victoria Henao appear in this file photograph when Escobar was a member of the Colombian Congress in 1983. The late cocaine kingpin's wife and her son Juan Pablo Escobar were detained in Buenos Aires late Monday on charges of laundering drug money and falsifying documents. B/W ON LY (COLOMBIA OUT).

CLP/ZDC

Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and his wife Victoria Henao seem on this file photograph when Escobar used to be a member of the Colombian Congress in 1983. (CLP/ZDC)

The film makes consume of a combination of archive photos, contemporary interviews and dramatic reconstructions with actors to inform the story of their 11 week coaching, and then environment off to kill Pablo.

There’s then a fateful twist when the assault goes depraved en route to Medellin, leaving McAleese and his squaddies stranded in the jungle needing a dramatic rescue.

Regardless of fearing for their lives, McAleese and his crew finally made it out of the jungle – and whereas the mission used to be unsuccessful, Escobar used to be finally killed by Colombian police in 1993.

To at the moment McAleese contemplates good how shut they came to ridding the world of Escobar all those years ahead of.

He commented: “I feel that what they did to Escobar used to be prolonged overdue.

“Settle the topic we were in. We trained for 11 weeks. The DEA were out there for years and couldn’t assign it together.

“It’s alright saying they got him, nevertheless it’s now not a professional reflection on how they dealt with the topic.

“I don’t know worthy about the DEA however I good know that we had a scurry at it for 11 weeks. And we got quite shut.

“The wasn’t what we concept it could perhaps most likely be, however there’s now not many things I’d swap.”

Killing Escobar is on BBC Two, Monday 19 July, 9pm, and obtainable on iPlayer.

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‘Killing Escobar’: The incredible true story of the British mercenaries hired to kill Pablo Escobar