A RETIRED Colombian cartel boss who rose to power after the death of Pablo Escobar has been assassinated by hitmen.
Beto Renteria, 75, was once head of the notorious Norte del Valle mob which shipped drugs worth billions to the US.
Renteria – who only recently returned to Colombia after seven years in a US jail – was gunned down in a modest home in Sajonia, Tulua, on Wednesday.
Local reports say he was sitting in an armchair sipping water when the assassin fired through a window, hitting him in the head.
The hitman, who used 9mm “dum dum” hollow-tip bullets to ensure he would not survive, fled with an accomplice on a motorbike.
Authorities deployed extra security forces to the region to stop an outbreak of revenge violence after his death.
It is not yet known who ordered the professional-style hit, but Renteria made many enemies over the decades.
He was involved in smuggling narcotics from the 1970s, and became one of the trade’s most powerful figures after the fall of the Medellin Cartel when Escobar died in 1993.
At the height of his powers he declared himself an enemy of Miguel and Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, bosses of the feared Cali Cartel, and waged all-out war on his rivals.
His organisation shipped cocaine from all over Colombia and Peru to Mexico, from where it was smuggled to the US.
The US government put a $5million bounty on his head and began targeting his assets and vast property portfolio, which ranged from agriculture to hotels, clinics and the local football team Cortuluá.
Colombian authorities also seized 34 of his properties in 2006 as his empire began to break apart.
In 2010 he was captured in Venezuela, reportedly with the help of British intelligence services.
At the time he was classified as “the last great boss of the Norte del Valle Cartel”, since the other leaders of the mob had died or were captured.
He was extradited to the US where he served seven years for trafficking.
After returning to Colombia he was reportedly arrested again in 2018 and was due to face further charges.
His whereabouts were unknown to the public until his assassination this week.
The investigation into his murder continues.