Money from drug trafficking had thoroughly penetrated Colombia's government and economy in the late 1980s, late drug lord Pablo Escobar said in a just-released 1988 interview.

Escobar shared his thoughts with Yolanda Ruiz, current director of RCN La Radio's flagship morning news program.

That media outlet released the interview for the first time on Friday, three days before the 20th anniversary of the kingpin's Dec. 2, 1993, death at the hands of police.

"Hot money has made its way to all economic sectors," Escobar said. "The state and the government receive that tax money from people who are accused of trafficking in illegal drugs."

"All of these people who are publicly accused of belonging to drug trafficking (gangs) are really the only people who are investing in the country ... while the other sectors of the economy are taking their money out (and putting it into) accounts abroad," the billionaire mobster said.

Escobar, who headed up the Medellín cartel, also predicted a gradual trend toward the legalization of outlawed drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

"They accuse me of drug trafficking. This is an activity that at this moment in history ... has been declared illegal ... but over the long haul and in the future will tend toward legalization," he said.

The drug trafficker insisted he was always willing to negotiate with the authorities.

"Historically we've shown that since 1984, when a dialogue was proposed to the national government that sincerely would have avoided a lot of bloodshed," he said

Escobar also denied responsibility for the thousands of drug-related killings that took place in Medellín and surrounding Antioquia province.

He ended the interview with a personal statement: "I'm 38 years old. For 28 years, I was poor and rode on buses. Of these last 10 years, I've spent five in hiding and the other five I devoted every weekend to serving the people."

"It took 25 years for the story to be told," Ruiz wrote Friday in the El Espectador daily, referring to her meeting with the world's then-most-wanted man at one of his rural properties.

The veteran journalist acknowledged that she never imagined the interview would be shelved for so many years by decision of her superiors.

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