The city of Medellin, Colombia is once more renewing its ban against men riding on the back of motorcycles, the favored vehicle of local assassins since the era of Pablo Escobar.
Men are prohibited from riding as passengers on motorcycles between 8 a.m. and 12 midnight, a measure that the government says has cut targeted killings by motorcycle riders.
The Medellin Mayor’s Office is set to extend the restriction until January 2015, reported El Colombiano.
According to a press release from the Mayor’s Office, motorcycle assassinations decreased by 39 percent in 13 months after the current ban was implemented in November 2012. Robberies of cars and of motorcycles by motorcycle riders each fell by nearly 30 percent.
The mobility secretary of the Mayor’s Office could not be reached for comment.
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The use of motorcycle assassins was popularized by Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel in the 1980s. Escobar’s mentor Griselda Blanco, known as “The Queen of Cocaine,” ordered her hitmen to travel by motorcycle, after some of her men used a car to carry out a killing, and were captured by the police while stuck in traffic. Ironically, Blanco was herself killed by motorcycle assassins in 2012.
Escobar ordered the deaths of many high-profile figures using motorcycle assassins, including Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla in 1984, and El Espectador editor Guillermo Cano in 1986.
Other criminal groups copied his tactics. Journalist and humorist Jaime Garzon was assassinated by two men on a motorcycle in 1999, a crime thought to have been ordered by the paramilitaries.
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Medellin authorities strictly enforce the ban, despite protests from some quarters. According to the Mayor’s Office, between November 30, 2012, and January 26, 2014, close to 12,000 people were arrested for violating the ban.
Medellin and other Colombian cities have previously imposed bans on motorcycle passengers, as have other countries in Latin America.