Married in her early teens, Evelyn Bozon Pappa says she was abused for years by her husband, a former helicopter pilot for the Medellin cartel kingpin, Pablo Escobar.
The husband would move on to direct his own drug-smuggling operation from a Colombian seaside city, pressuring his wife to manage a ring of passengers who carried suitcases packed with cocaine on commercial flights to Miami.
“If you don’t help me, you know what will happen to your mother,” he threatened her.
The couple, Carlos Horacio Romero-Paez and Bozon, would later both be charged with drug trafficking by U.S. authorities. He would never be caught. Her life would be destroyed. She was arrested in Miami, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in the mid-1990s, when the Cali cartel dominated the world’s cocaine trade.
But 26 years later, in a turn of fate, Bozon has finally attained her freedom. It took a village, as the saying goes, with collaborative support from her four grown children in Colombia, a team of former prisoners, a Florida State University law professor, two former federal prosecutors and a retired Customs Service agent, who recently came to her defense after putting her behind bars.
***Bozon, now free and reunited with her family in Colombia, is mindful of all the people who helped guide her through her legal odyssey. “They all fought for me,” she said.Now back in Colombia after a couple of weeks of freedom, Bozon says she is slowly adapting to her new life — just being with her four children, a medical doctor, architect, clothing designer and logistics coordinator. She said several members of her extended family have been infected with the coronavirus but that she has been vaccinated.“My priority right now is to be with my family, make them happy and feel comfortable with them,” Bozon said.In the long run, she said she hopes to join an organization that helps other women who have suffered from abuse and battery. “I want to get involved in that because I have the spirit now,” Bozon said. “I can give to them a lot of positive things and make them free.”