It’s 2018, so you probably think you’ve heard every possible type of prison break there is. That is, until today.
Forget jumping out of a moving police van and forget drilling a hole in your cell wall and crawling through the sewers. Okay, maybe I’ve been watching too many movies…
Anyway, how about swapping faces so that you’re completely unrecognisable to the police? Because this is exactly what one Colombian drug lord admitted to doing recently.
Former North Valley Cartel leader Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia — also known as ‘Chupeta’ or ‘lollipop’ – told court officials yesterday (November 29) that he altered his face to avoid arrest while on the run.
As reported by the New York Post, the former cartel leader was testifying in Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s Brooklyn Federal Court trial when he made the admission.
He completely restructured his face using plastic surgery, the result being that he looks unrecognisable. His mouth is larger, his jaw is wider and his cheekbones protrude.
In his testimony, he said:
I had changes done to my face. I altered the physical appearance of my jawbone, my cheekbone, my eyes, my mouth, my ears and my nose.
Ramirez said he first began hiding his true identity by paying off officials to erase any photos, fingerprints and records they had of him.
However, it was after his release from prison in the late 1980’s that he decided to have an extreme makeover and fled to Brazil.
The drug lord hid out in a ‘extravagant’ mansion, leaving only for plastic surgery appointments and midnight bike rides. He reportedly used a range of disguises while he continued his drug empire.
You can look at the end result of his surgery below:
Jose Amaral Jr worked as a security guard in the luxury Morada dos Lagos condominium, where Ramirez resided. He thought there was something odd about the man, particularly because of his constantly changing appearance.
As reported by The Guardian, Amaral said:
It wasn’t just me. All of the guards thought he was kind of mafioso. He used all these different hats. He changed his hair all the time; first it was black, then blond and then white. He had sideburns, then a moustache, and he wore dark glasses. All of the windows of his cars were blacked out.
But his life eventually caught up with him as, despite the plastic surgery and the constant disguises, Ramirez was finally caught in 2007 when his voice was recognised during a phone tap.
During his 20 years as a cartel leader, Ramirez estimated he helped import approximately 400,000 kilos of cocaine into the US.
He first began working with El Chapo in the early 1990s, with the latter telling the drug lord he wanted a bigger cut than the other drug traffickers – 40 per cent instead of 37.
And apparently he was worth it, as Ramirez recalled during his testimony a time when El Chapo had trafficked his cocaine over the border.
[The pilots] had been fed and were very happy and wanted to go back. That was one of the first times the Mexican drug traffickers delivered my cocaine that quickly.
As reported by BBC News, El Chapo is accused of being behind the Sinaloa drug cartel, which prosecutors say was the biggest supplier of drugs to the States.
The trial continues.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).