By Francisco Moreno Mosquera
In September 1939, an unknown individual arrived in Quibdó, on the steamer Atrato, who drew attention due to his old and threadbare clothing. The day after his arrival, the subject bought a very fine suitcase at the local store and went through stores making purchases that he paid for in dollars, something that was extremely exotic and striking in a town as small as Quibdó at that time. He ordered an elegant suit to be made in a tailor shop, asking that they have it ready in two hours.
He paid in advance double what the tailor charged, adding a tip in pure gold. People were amazed by the huge amount of bills and metal that the man was carrying. The authorities detained him, demanding an explanation about the origin of that fortune. Visibly nervous, the stranger gave evasive answers, without providing anything concrete, reason enough to be jailed.
It is unknown how the subject managed so that, two days after his arrest, he calmly took the seaplane that left Quibdó for Buenaventura. Simultaneously, the news broke that an American company that exploited gold deposits in the Panamanian Darién had been robbed by two men, who murdered a company worker. Nine thousand dollars and several pounds of gold were stolen.
Witnesses managed to identify one of the assailants, a Spanish national. In his flight they reached Juradó, but in the solitude of the jungle the stranger killed his Spanish companion to keep all the loot. Paying indigenous guides, he moved to the Salaquí River, then to Sautatá, Riosucio and finally to Quibdó.
The dangerous criminal spoke perfect English; in Quibdó he said his name was José González, in Juradó he identified himself as José Gutiérrez; and in Panama, where he was imprisoned for various crimes, he called himself José Andrade. It is believed that the assailant eventually fled to Ecuador and from there to the United States; then he took a ship to Japan, where he could blend in, given the oriental features of his face.
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