Leonidas Vargas - Death

Death

In January 2009, Vargas was checked into the Doce de Octubre Hospital in Madrid due to heart and lung problems. He was placed in a fifth private room with one other patient. On January 8, two men came into his room while Vargas slept. One of the men stood guard in the doorway. The other man, wearing an overcoat and scarf, asked the other patient if he was Vargas. When the patient responded, "No", the man turned to Vargas, pulled out a silenced pistol and fired four shots at him, killing Vargas instantly. The gunman then threatened the other patient at gunpoint to keep quiet, saying "Don't move, don't say anything. This has nothing to do with you." The gunman then left the hospital room with the second man. A nurse who responded to the sound of the gunshots found Vargas' bullet-ridden body, and was so horrified by the sight that she required medical attention. Police set up a large dragnet around the hospital, but both men escaped. Authorities believed them to be professional hitmen from eastern Europe, who were hired to settle scores between Vargas and rival drug gangs.

On January 10, two days after Vargas was killed, his brother Fabio Vargas, 47, and girlfriend Liliana Lozano, 30, were shot to death in a hotel in Palmira. Authorities believed the two killings, coupled with the murder of Leonidas Vargas, were the signs of a bloody war waged to take control of Vargas' cocaine business. The murder of Leonidas Vargas also led to calls by the Patients' Defence Association and other advocacy groups calling for better security measures in Spanish hospitals. Madrid health authorities dismissed such calls, claiming further security measures would only limit people's freedoms and accessibility for visitors.

Seven arrests were made in connection with the Leonidas Vargas murder, which authorities believed was committed by an organized group involved in extortion and drug trafficking. On October 25, 2009, 24-year-old Jonathan Andrew O. was arrested in Madrid for allegedly committing the murder itself. He was arrested at the Madrid-Barajas Airport after a flight from the Colombian city Cali.

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