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Medellin, a city of three million that climbs up the northern Andes mountains, became the most murderous city in the world in the early Nineties under the rule of cocaine baron Pablo Escobar, its most famous son.
After police gunned down Escobar in 1993, the murder rate subsided.
Gustavo was born in 1985 in one of the slums – or comunas – that climb up the steep mountain slopes overlooking Medellin.
The neighbourhoods of unpainted breeze block homes with tin roofs were squatted by thousands who swarmed to the city from Colombia’s peaks, valleys and jungles.
In the Latin American drug war, journalists cannot afford to act as eyes for law enforcement.
Back in the Eighties, the region was torn apart by fighting between Left-wing guerrillas and Right-wing dictators.
For many young men here, working for the cartels is one of the few ways out of the ghetto.
Dressed in a trendy green short-sleeved shirt, Hawaiian shorts and bright-green canvas baseball boots, Gustavo is strikingly thin, with light brown skin and hair shaved to a crew cut.
Now most ideological wars are over, but the number of murders keeps rising as rivals fight over the billions of pounds in profit from the cocaine, marijuana and heroin produced in these fertile lands.
In Mexico, more than 18,000 people have been shot dead or had their heads hacked off in drug-related killings in the last three years; in Guatemala there were 6,000 murders in 2009.