Juan Mingolla Gallardo, alias “Pasos Largos” (Long Steps) (born in El Burgo–Puerto de los Empedrados (spanish) , on May 4, 1873 and died in Sopalmillos Cave, Sierra Blanquilla (spanish) on March 18, 1934) was an Andalusian bandit, considered the last one in the Serrania de Ronda.
The name “Pasos Largos” was inherited from his father who received it for his peculiar walk. His natural taciturnity worsened during military service in the war in Cuba between 1895 and 1898.
Returning to Spain he receives the news of the death of his older brother. His younger brother immediately leaves the family home to marry and, in 1901, his mother dies.
The breakup of his family, of which he was very fond, makes Long Steps (“Pasos Largos”) an increasingly introverted person and he begins to engage in poaching, spending most of the day in the mountains. He also gets fond of gambling which makes, in addition to losing all the money he can get, to be constantly involved in quarrels and fights.
Picture of Ronda at he turn of the 19th Century, the times of Pasos Largos
Denounced by the guard of the Finca of “El Chopo” as poacher, he is arrested by the Civil Guard and beaten. Juan Mingolla then decides to take revenge, and in May 8, 1916, after locating the son of the guard, he shoots two bullets into his head, after which he finishes him off with the sickle so he “does not suffer.”
Then he goes to find the father, and with the same sickle he kills him. He leaves both bodies lying in the fields in front of the Finca of El Chopo….
The brutality with which he does the murders shows the hatred and anger that dominate his personality.
Persecuted by the police, he flees and takes refuge in the mountains, where he knows how to survive. Clavelino, Lifa and Sopalmillos Caves in the Ronda Hills become his shelters, and there is where the legends begin that portray him as a compassionate, noble and generous bandit.
So it is said that on one occasion he surprised two Civil Guards that he disarmed and released them so they could return to Ronda and tell what happened. Along the way a boy reaches them and returns them their weapons “so that their bosses would not punish them”.
Pasos Largos at the Malaga Prison
His specialty is kidnapping, among them that of Diego Villarejo, a wealthy owner of Cuevas del Becerro, of which he gets 10,000 reales. But being the victim an important person in the Malaga province, the incident came to the attention of the most important people in the country. Therefor his search and arrest is made a priority.
In the meantime, his financial needs, derived from his love of gambling, makes him rob and blackmail the rich farmers, including the mayor of Ronda, Juan Peinado Vallejo.
At August 14, 1916, “Pasos Largos” is betrayed by the wife of a goatherd in whose cabin he was often sheltering.
The Guardia Civil exchanges fire with him, and leave him wounded. Despite of that he manages to escape by falling into a ravine where he remained unconscious for several hours. When he regains consciousness he can only go to Ronda…
Prooving his cold blood, he goes to the Sibajas Café on the main street of the city, where he played often. There he decides to surrender, and when the forces of authority arrested him, the people who were there cheered and clothed.
“Pasos Largos” is sentenced to life in prison serving a sentence in the penitentiary of Figueras. There the tuberculosis he got in the Cuba war worsens.
Pasos Largos at the Ronda Prison
In 1932 he was moved to the prison (spanish) of Puerto de Santa María, from which he was freed for good behavior by the new Republican Government and his health status.
Pasos Largos Interview at the Malaga Prison Shortly before his death.
When freed he goes back to Ronda and looks for a Job. He founds it at one of the fincas of Diego Villarejo, former landowner who he had kidnapped. The work lasts little since freedom in the mountains is what he longs for. Thus “Pasos Largos” returns to poaching and to commit petty thefts that take him on several occasions to the municipal jail.
One day he steals a shotgun at the Finca of Lifa and goes back, at over sixty years of age, to his life as a bandit in the mountains around Ronda until, on March 18, 1934, the Civil Guard received reports that he was hiding at the Solpalmillo Caves, located in Sierra Blanquilla, in the heart of the Sierra de las Nieves of Ronda.
Forces from the towns of Arriate, Igualeja, Serrato, El Burgo and Cuevas del Becerro siege him and try to force him him to surrender under the threat of killing him. To that he replies, “Well, kill me….”
Police at the Pasos Largos hideout and final death location near sopalmillo cave
The shooting ends with “Pasos Largos” killed by two shots, one in the abdomen and another in the chest.
Pasos Largos killed by the Guardia Civil at sopalmillo cave
With him ends the age of the romantic bandits of Andalusia, 80 Years ago….
More Links about Pasos Largos
Extended History of Pasos Largos (Spanish)
Walking Route in the mountains to Sopalmillo Cave and Sierra Blanquilla (Spanish)
Description of the death of Pasos Largos in detail (spanish)
The Cueva Sopalmillos in 1935 and now in 2016