Wide Angle

José Manuel Caamaño, the Spanish undercover officer who met Pablo Escobar in Casablanca

In 1992, undercover police officer José Manuel Caamaño met Pablo Escobar in a Casablanca mansion. The Spanish agent made the Colombian drug lord drop the idea of operating in Morocco.

Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. / Ph. DR
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He is a Tangier-native who worked for Spain’s National Police Corps for years. In Morocco, José Manuel Caamaño was an undercover officer for who was sent by Spain to gain the trust of the Galician clans.

He successfully managed to infiltrate the clan, that operated in the Kingdom. But in 1992, in a Casablanca mansion, he met the one and only : Pablo Escobar, also known as Don Emilio, the founder of Colombia’s Medellin cartel and the United States’ biggest nightmare.

The 65-year-old retired officer has finally spoken about meeting Don Emilio. In an article by Spanish daily El Mundo, published Wednesday, Caamaño spills the tea, disclosing the details of some crucial events he lived while monitoring drug trafficking networks in Morocco, which were also mentioned in his recent book. 

Rubbing shoulders with the Los Charlines

His meeting with Don Emilio was the last thing he was thinking of and was also the result of a lot of hard work. In 1990, and after rubbing shoulders with drug traffickers in the Kingdom for years, Caamaño who 36-year-old at the time was informed about the suspicious movements of «Galicians» in the North African Kingdom.

José Manuel Caamaño. / Ph. Ceuta TVJosé Manuel Caamaño. / Ph. Ceuta TV

One year later, he managed to get closer to influential members of the Spanish clan. «Caamaño booked a table at a restaurant that was right next to Galicians», after he was informed that they were having an important business dinner there. The officer ended up being invited by them and was offered to work for them.

The undercover officer who pretended he was a Spanish archaeologist, became a trusted consultant of the Los Charlines, a Galician drug trafficking clan. Mingling with the Los Charlines, Caamaño realized that they were planning to do business with the Colombians, who were interested in Morocco.

The Spanish cartel’s deal with the Colombians included a shipment that had to be transferred through the Kingdom. And to discuss that, the two clans planned a series of meetings in a luxurious mansion in southern Casablanca.

Surprisingly, Caamaño was invited to the first meeting, which was scheduled for September 1992. In the Casablanca villa, the meeting looked like a «movie’s party». «Mountains of cocaine and South American and Moroccan girls», he told the Spanish newspaper.

Meeting Don Emilio in Casablanca

The party was attended by Colombians, Galicians and a number of police informants. In the middle of the meeting, Caamaño was told that Don Emilio wanted to meet him. At the time he did not know who this man was, but he was forced to do what he was told after a man showed him the gun hidden under his jacket.

Don Emilio was waiting for him outside the luxurious mansion. He explained to him that the Colombians had «1,000 kilos of merchandise and that they were going to pay 100 million dollars, but the Moroccans wanted them to pay again to get it out of the country». «The merchandise is mine», Don Emilio told Caamaño.

During their short meeting, Caamaño advised Don Emilio against operating in Morocco and warned him against the obstacles he might face in the country. After discussing the deal with the Spanish undercover officer, Don Emilio dropped the idea of «doing business» in Morocco.

However, before leaving, he proudly asked him «do you know who I am, little Spaniard ?». Before waiting for Caamaño’s answer, he said «I am Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria».

Caamaño recalls that he was offered a job by Escobar, who tried to convince him into becoming his consultant and accompanying him to Colombia. The police officer said that he would think about it and that he had to get his things put together before taking the decision.

That was his first and last meeting with Escobar, who, according him, might «have taken refuge in Morocco» after he escaped prison in Colombia in July 1992.

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