Hospital officials and a cousin said Juan David Ochoa died Thursday at a private clinic in Medellin.
Hospital officials and a cousin said Juan David Ochoa died Thursday at a private clinic in Medellin.

Guess how the co-founder of the infamous Medellin cocaine cartel and partner of fabled narco Pablo Escobar died? If you are thinking in a shoot-out with Colombian authorities like Pablo did, you are wrong.

Or if you think inside a dank Colombian jail you are also wrong.  Or rotting in a U.S. prison after being extradited, you are also wrong.

Sixty-five-year-old Juan David Ochoa was accorded a death not often given to narcos let alone one that was as high profile as he was.  He died a mundane death attributed to a heart attack in his hometown of Medellin.

In the 1980’s the Ochoa brothers that included David, Jorge Luis and Fabio along with Pablo Escobar created the largest pipeline of South American cocaine to the U.S.; at one time earning US$60 million-a-day.

Juan David was the eldest brother who started in 1979 traveling to the U.S. as a student and started selling coke in the U.S.  The brothers worked alone for a few years before hooking up with Escobar.  This happened long before anyone had ever heard of Los Zetas or other Mexican cocaine cartels that took over coke distribution from the Colombians and expanded the drug routes and profit margins.

Most of the Medellin cartel founders died a violent death and/or are in prison.  Which is what makes Juan David’s quiet end so extraordinary.

Fabio Ochoa is serving a 30-year prison sentence in the U.S. since 2001 after becoming part of the Milenio cartel.  Escobar the most infamous of the group unleashed a bloody war on Colombian soil so as not to be extradited to the U.S. and died in a gun battle in 1993.  At the time of his death his net worth was estimated at over $20 billion. Image

Meanwhile Juan David and Fabio both served five years in prison for drug trafficking and avoided extradition to the U.S. where they would most likely of served stiffer sentences.  Juan David benefitted from the policy of then Colombian President Cesar Gaviria who said any narco who turned themselves in would never be extradited to the U.S.

After the Ochoa brothers were released in 1996 the then Colombian Justice Minister Carlos Medellin called the release “a national disgrace.”

Juan David stayed out of trouble and returned to the family business of raising horses while Jorge Luis remains in Medellin presumably living a quiet life.

Reportedly to avoid publicity the family did not have a wake for the Catholic Ochoa and cremated his remains.