BOGOTA, Colombia — Fugitive cocaine czar Pablo Escobar escaped in his underwear into Colombia's northern jungles, eluding raids by soldiers and police who killed two of his Medellin cartel bodyguards and captured 55 suspects, police said Friday.
Soldiers fanned out in helicopters and speedboats across Colombia's densely forested Antioquia state, near a ranch allegedly controlled by Escobar, the reputed head of Colombia's most powerful cocaine empire.
"Escobar seems to be in the area," Gen. Octavio Vargas, the national police operations director, told Bogota's Caracol radio. "We are going to continue the search as long as necessary."
Vargas confirmed previous reports that Escobar escaped in only his underwear as police and army helicopters on Thursday assaulted the ranch house in the Magdelena River valley where he had been hiding.
Medellin drug chieftain Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha and one of the drug-trafficking Ochoa brothers also were believed to have escaped the raids that began late Wednesday and continued Thursday.