Hitmen are a thing of legend, surrounded by more myth than most exciting ancient heroes. We see them in action films and video games — the Hitman series obviously comes to mind — but you rarely ever hear about them in the real world. Sure, you might hear that some guy got arrested for trying to pay someone a hunk of cash to make his wife disappear, but the two aren’t quite the same.
The hitmen of the movies usually have extraordinary skills. They have the hand-to-hand combat training of six or seven martial arts masters, the knife skills to make circus jugglers envious, aim that puts the best military snipers to shame, and usually some serious computer hacking skills that let them track down their victims. These guys kill hundreds and thousands of high-level targets before they’re pulled out of retirement to avenge their murdered pets.
Real hired killers aren’t quite as glorious as the fictional ones, but that isn’t to say they haven’t been accomplished enough to cause periods of mayhem or amass body counts on par with some of the most dangerous serial killers. These guys definitely existed and probably still do, and Jorge “Rivi” Ayala was one of them before he was picked up and thrown behind bars for committing a bank robbery of all things (via Miami New Times). After his imprisonment, he pled guilty to a few of his crimes and received a life sentence, as UPI notes. But before he was caught, the streets ran with figurative rivers of his targets’ blood.
Jorge Ayala worked for the Medellin cartel
Jorge “Rivi” Ayala was the perfect hitman. According to the Miami New Times, he was the last person anyone involved in the Columbian-Miami drug trade would’ve suspected to be their killer. The killer didn’t look Columbian, though he was, and he spoke perfect English with an American accent because he grew up in Chicago. In fact, his voice wasn’t intimidating at all — he had a condition that caused his tone to be abnormally high-pitched. Still, that didn’t stop him from blending in wherever he found himself, nor did it stop him from becoming dangerously vicious when money was slipped his way.
The killer’s talents made him useful to one Griselda Blanco — also known as the “Cocaine Godmother” — who ran the Medellín cartel best known for producing the infamous Pablo Escobar, as NBC Miami details. In fact, Vice says Ayala was her favorite hitman, and why wouldn’t he be? He was responsible for several jobs that helped the cartel’s business and charming to boot. And unlike Escobar, Blanco was wildly vicious. Her apathy towards human life is one of the big reasons Miami had such a high murder rate throughout the ’80s, when the Miami drug war was at its peak.
But Ayala only seemed like a good employee for Blanco until he was sitting in a courtroom. Then, he became as good a squealer as he was a shooter, turning on his employer and detailing her business to the prosecutor so they would abstain from pursuing the death penalty.
Jorge Ayala has killed over 35 people
Few real-life hitmen rack up the numbers that the Hollywood variety does. Though, who knows, there may be plenty of hitmen out there with vast kill lists who’ve either never been caught or the bulk of whose murders were never uncovered. But of those we know of today, National Crime Syndicate‘s list of the top 10 contract killers makes clear that Jorge Ayala is near the top. According to UPI, Ayala is believed to have killed at least 35 people while in Blanco’s service, and those numbers could certainly be higher given that he operated during a drug war and all. Despite his presumed number of victims, Ayala was only convicted of killing three people, and somehow, his sentence includes the option for parole. The chances of him getting it are slim, but at least the feds gave him a good deal to rat out his boss.
Among some of the hitman’s more notable targets were a pair of drug dealers, Alfredo and Grizel Lorenzo, who the Miami Herald says Ayala gunned down in one room while their children were awake and watching television in the other. He also killed Johnny Castro — son of former enforcer Jesus “Chucho” Castro — in a botched hit order by Blanco. Then, there’s his most brazen of all known murders: the shootout at Dadeland Mall.
The event that kicked off the Miami drug war
As the Miami Herald explains, authorities officially connected Jorge Ayala to the Dadeland Mall shooting that took place in 1979. According to The Gangster Report, it is this event that kicked off the entire Miami drug war throughout the ’80s. And the story of the shootout is pretty wild.
The engagement itself resulted in the death of German Jimenez Panesso and his bodyguard, NBC Miami reports. Panesso was a major drug trafficker who’d offended the wrong people — mainly Blanco — and was at the local liquor store in Dadeland Mall when the shootout took place. While he was probably trying to get his drank on like everyone else, Ayala and his partner came flying in with uzis. The pair shot the place up really well and left bullet holes everywhere, including in the cars the duo ran past as they hopped into a fake delivery van for “Happy Time Complete Party Supply.” They also injured liquor store employees who were caught in the hail of bullets.
Now, this shootout happened because Ayala’s boss wasn’t a Lannister, meaning she didn’t like to pay her debts. Before this all went down, some of Blanco’s men had robbed Panesso’s house, and they ganked a fair amount of stuff. Blanco, in turn, owed Panesso for the valuables these henchmen had stolen if she wanted to keep things civil. Which apparently, she didn’t.
Jorge Ayala has become awkwardly famous
Jorge “Rivi” Ayala first became famous outside of circles that had anything to do with the cocaine industry when his name hit the headlines following his arrest, but let’s face it: not many people read the news. They do, however, watch television and other such media, and Ayala’s persona is no stranger to the screen or the stage.
As the Miami Herald mentions, Ayala was interviewed from his prison cell for the 2006 documentary “Cocaine Cowboys,” the work of filmmakers Alfred Spellman and Billy Corben. During the film, the hitman explains his and Blanco’s part in the cocaine cowboys era. And although Corben has a new docuseries on Netflix as we speak, he also had a hand in the dramatized stage version of the Miami drug war as seen from Ayala’s perspective. The show, “Confessions of a Cocaine Cowboy,” started playing through Miami New Drama as of 2009. And how awkward would it feel to be a hitman whose life is at the center of a drama stageplay while you’re sitting behind bars what’s now become public entertainment? Maybe Ayala can watch it sometime if he ever gets granted parole.
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