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Pablo Escobar

Pablo Escobar
Born Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria
(1949-12-01)December 1, 1949
Rionegro, Colombia
Died December 2, 1993(1993-12-02) (aged 44)
Medellín, Colombia
Other names
  • Don Pablo
  • El Doctor (The Doctor)
  • El Mágico (The Magician)
  • El Padrino (The Godfather)
  • El Patrón (The Boss)
  • El Señor (The Lord)
  • El Zar de la Cocaína
    (The Tsar of Cocaine)
Occupation Head of the Medellín Cartel
Religion Roman Catholic
Criminal penalty 60 years imprisonment
Spouse(s) Maria Victoria Henao
Children Sebastián Marroquín
Manuela Escobar
Conviction(s) Drug trafficking and smuggling, assassinations, bombing, bribery, racket, rape, molestation

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria (December 1, 1949 – December 2, 1993) was a notorious Colombian drug lord who, at the height of his career, supplied about 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the US.[1][2] Known as "The King of Cocaine", he was the wealthiest criminal in history, with an estimated known net worth of US$30 billion by the early 1990s, and approximately US$50 billion when including money that was buried in different areas of Colombia.[3]


  • Early life 1
  • Criminal career 2
    • Height of power 2.1
  • Personal life 3
    • La Catedral prison 3.1
    • Search Bloc and Los Pepes 3.2
  • Death and aftermath 4
    • Virginia Vallejo's testimony 4.1
    • Relatives 4.2
  • Popular depiction 5
    • Books 5.1
    • Films and television 5.2
      • Films and documentary television 5.2.1
      • Television 5.2.2
    • Games 5.3
    • Music 5.4
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Pablo Escobar was born in Rionegro, Colombia, the third of seven children to Abel de Jesús Dari Escobar, a farmer, and Hermilda Gaviria, an elementary school teacher.[4] As a teenager on the streets of Medellín, he began his criminal career by allegedly stealing gravestones and sanding them down for resale to smugglers. His brother, Roberto Escobar, denies this, claiming that the gravestones came from cemetery owners whose clients had stopped paying for site care and that they had a relative who had a monuments business.[5] He studied for a short time at the University Autónoma Latinoamericana of Medellín.[6]

Escobar was involved in many criminal activities with Oscar Bernal Aguirre—running petty street scams, selling contraband cigarettes and fake lottery tickets, and stealing cars. In the early 1970s, he was a thief and bodyguard, and he made a quick $100,000 on the side kidnapping and ransoming a Medellín executive before entering the drug trade.[7] His next step on the ladder was to become a millionaire by working for contraband smuggler Alvaro Prieto. Escobar's childhood ambition was to become a millionaire by the time he was 22.[8]

Criminal career

In The Accountant's Story, Pablo's brother and accountant, Roberto Escobar, discusses the means by which Pablo rose from middle class simplicity and obscurity to become one of the world's wealthiest men. At the height of its power, the Medellín drug cartel was smuggling fifteen tons of cocaine per day, worth more than half a billion dollars, into the United States. According to Roberto, he and his brother's operation spent $1000 per week purchasing rubber bands to wrap the stacks of cash, storing most of it in their warehouses; 10% had to be written off per year because of "spoilage" by rats that crept in at night and nibbled on the hundred dollar bills.[8]

In 1975, Escobar started developing his cocaine operation. He even flew a plane himself several times, mainly between Colombia and Panama, to smuggle a load into the United States. When he later bought fifteen new and bigger airplanes (including a Learjet) and six helicopters, he decommissioned the plane and hung it above the gate to his ranch at Hacienda Napoles. In May 1976, Escobar and several of his men were arrested and found in possession of 39 pounds (18 kg) of white paste after returning to Medellín with a heavy load from Ecuador. Initially, Pablo tried unsuccessfully to bribe the Medellín judges who were forming the case against him. Instead, after many months of legal wrangling, Pablo had the two arresting officers killed and the case was dropped. Hereafter he began his pattern of dealing with the authorities by either bribing them or killing them.[9] Roberto Escobar maintains Pablo fell into the business simply because contraband became too dangerous to traffic. There were no drug cartels then and only a few drug barons, so there was plenty of business for everyone. In Peru, they bought the cocaine paste, which they refined in a laboratory in a two-story house in Medellín. On his first trip, Pablo bought a paltry 13,5 kilos(30 pounds) worth of paste in what was to become the first step towards the building of his empire. At first, he smuggled the cocaine in old plane tires and a pilot could earn as much as $500,000 per flight depending on how much he could smuggle.[10]

Soon, the demand for cocaine was skyrocketing in the

  • The Abandoned House of Pablo Escobar from

External links

  • Bowden, Mark (2002). Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw. Penguin Pub.
  • McAleese, Peter (1993, 2001). No Mean Soldier. Cassell Pub.
  • Mollison, James. The Memory of Pablo Escobar. Chris Boot (2007)
  • Escobar, Roberto. ESCOBAR. Hodder & Stoughton (2009)
  • Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. News of a Kidnapping. Penguin (1998)

Further reading

  1. ^ a b "Pablo Escobar Gaviria – English Biography – Articles and Notes". Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  2. ^ Business (2011-01-17). "Pablo Emilio Escobar 1949 – 1993 9 Billion USD – The business of crime – 5 'success' stories". Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  3. ^ "Pablo Escobar". 
  4. ^ Marcela Grajales. "Pablo Escobar". Accents Magazine, Kean University. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  5. ^ "Escobar Seventh Richest Man in the World in 1990". Richest Archived from the original on 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  6. ^ Salazar, Alonso. "Pablo Escobar, el patrón del mal (La parábola de Pablo)". Google Livres. Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial USA, 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "Colombian Druglord Trying To Turn Wealth Into Respect – Page 2 – Orlando Sentinel". 10 March 1991. Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  8. ^ a b c Escobar, Roberto (2009). The Accountant's Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellín Cartel. Grand Central Publishing. 
  9. ^ "Pablo Escobar – The Medellin Cartel". Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  10. ^ "Amazing story of how Pablo Escobar came to be the richest crook in history". The Daily Record. Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  11. ^ "frontline: transcripts: the godfather of cocaine". 
  12. ^ "Así conocí a Pablo Escobar". Revista Semana. May 12, 2007.
  13. ^ Jhon Jairo Velásquez (obtained October 21, 2014)
  14. ^ "El Pais - Cali Colombia nacional “Pablo Escobar financió la toma del Palacio de Justicia” “Escobar financió toma del Palacio de Justicia”". 
  15. ^ "Farmer's son who bribed and murdered his way into drugs: Neither government forces nor other drug traffickers were interested in taking Pablo Escobar alive. Patrick Cockburn reports". The Independent (London). December 3, 1993. 
  16. ^ Associated Press (10 July 1989). "Japan's Tsutsumi Still Tops Forbes' Richest List".  
  17. ^ Meade, Teresa A. (2008). A history of modern Latin America, 1800 – 2000. Oxford: Blackwell. p. 302.  
  18. ^ Davison, Phil. "The Road to Italy: In the Shadow of the Drug Barons." The Independent 20 May 1990. Lexis-Nexis Academic. 8 Oct. 2009
  19. ^ a b Mark: The Hunt For The World's Greatest Outlaw." Atlantic Monthly Press, New York 2001
  20. ^ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – Chapter II: The Violence Phenomenon
  21. ^ Karl Penhaul (May 9, 2003). "Drug kingpin's killer seeks Colombia office". Boston Globe. 
  22. ^ Ceaser, Mike (2 June 2008). "At home on Pablo Escobar's ranch".  
  23. ^ Treaster, Joseph B. (23 July 1992). "Colombian Drug Baron Escapes Luxurious Prison After Gunfight". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  24. ^ Interview with Hugo Martinez – the man who 'got' Pablo Escobar D.Streatfeild. November 2000.
  25. ^ "Decline of the Medellín Cartel and the Rise of the Cali Mafia". U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  26. ^ "Familiares exhumaron cadáver de Pablo Escobar para verificar plenamente su identidad". 
  27. ^ Video of Escobar's exhumation on YouTube (Spanish)
  28. ^ Kenneth Roberts. (2007.) Zero Hour: Killing of the Cocaine King.
  29. ^ Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar. Virginia Vallejo
  30. ^ Colombian Attorney General on Virginia Vallejo’s offer to testify against Santofimio
  31. ^ "Virginia Vallejo OFFICIAL WEBSITE, photos, biography, videos". 
  32. ^ "Pablo Escobar's Ex-Lover Flees Colombia". Fox News. 
  33. ^ "Amando a Pablo, Odiando a Escobar, PAGINA OFICIAL". 
  34. ^ "Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar , OFFICIAL WEBSITE". 
  35. ^ Caracol Radio (27 August 2008). "Virginia Vallejo habla sobre el narcotráfico de los 80's en Colombia". Caracol Radio. 
  36. ^ "Truth Commission Blames Colombian State for Palace of Justice Tragedy". UNREDACTED. 
  37. ^ "Colombia ex-officer jailed after historic conviction". BBC News. 
  38. ^ "Colombian 1985 Supreme Court raid commander sentenced". BBC News. 
  39. ^ "Latin American Herald Tribune - Galan Slaying a “State Crime,” Colombian Prosecutors Say". 
  40. ^ Romero, Simon (October 3, 2007). "Colombian Leader Disputes Claim of Tie to Cocaine Kingpin". New York Times. p. 1. 
  41. ^ "Drug lord's wife and son arrested".  
  42. ^ "Drug lord's son seeks forgiveness".  
  43. ^ a b "What is actor Christian Bale doing next?". Journal Now. December 25, 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  44. ^ a b McNary, Dave (October 1, 2007). "Yari fast-tracking Escobar biopic". Variety. Retrieved November 29, 2007. 
  45. ^ Gabriel García Márquez (1998). News of a Kidnapping (English translation). Penguin. p. 304.  
  46. ^ Mollison, James. The Memory of Pablo Escobar (First ed.).  
  47. ^ "Weekly Screengrab: Sparring Partners". October 1, 2007. 
  48. ^ "Clear and Present Danger (1994)". IMDb. 
  49. ^ "No Bardem for Killing Pablo". WhatCulture. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  50. ^ Fleming, Michael (October 8, 2007). "'"Stone to produce another 'Escobar.  
  51. ^ "The Two Escobars". 
  52. ^ "Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez to Play PABLO ESCOBAR". Poor But Happy. 
  53. ^ Faraci, Devin (August 14, 2008). "JOE CARNAHAN IS GOING TO BE KILLING A NEW PABLO, AND WE KNOW WHO IT IS". Chud. 
  54. ^ Fleming, Michael (2008-12-12). "Bob Yari crashes into Chapter 11".  
  55. ^ "Escobar: El Patron del Mal". IMDb. 2012. 
  56. ^ "El Patron (2017)". IMDb. 12 September 2015. 


  • The second album of the Mexican-American grindcore metal band Brujeria, Raza Odiada, included a song called "El Patron", inspired by Escobar.
  • Gucci Mane's song "Pablo", on the album Diary of a Trap God, mentions Pablo Escobar.
  • Rapper Nas often refers to himself as "Nas Escobar" where he raps about selling drugs and about enjoying a similar lifestyle to Pablo Escobar's. This can be heard often on his mafioso rap sophomore album It Was Written (1996).
  • Brazilian-American band Soulfly included a song about Escobar in their album Enslaved (2012), titled "Plata o Plomo".
  • Soulja Boy's song "Pablo Escobar", featured in the project King Soulja 4 is a direct reference to Pablo Escobar
  • Figg Panamera's song "Came to See Pablo" hints at Escobar in the lyrics and also features his image on the album cover.
  • Lil Wayne referenced Pablo Escobar in his remix of "Hot Niggas" on his "Sorry For the Wait 2" mixtape, stating his favorite subject was P.E., Pablo Escobar.
  • The track "Free Your Turntable And Your Scratch Will Follow" from the DJ Cam album "Underground Vibes" references Pablo Escobar
  • In 2010, ZORBA began Pablo Escobar tours in Medellín to cater to the hundreds of tourists who visit his grave each year.


  • In the on-rails shooter game, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (2009), the main antagonist, Javier Hidalgo, seems to be based on Pablo Escobar. Both were drug lords, had a daughter called Manuela, possessed a personal militia, had a "mini" zoo of exotic animals (Escobar had a collection of African animals, and Javier had a "collection" of B.O.Ws (Bio Organic Weapons)), had the population under their control, and shared the same fate.
  • In the video game Scarface: The World Is Yours (2006), a random conversation with Tony Montana and a banker makes reference to Escobar, stating that Manuel Noriega stole Pablo's money and didn't pay the CIA their cut.


  • In the HBO television series Entourage, actor Vincent Chase (played by Adrian Grenier) plays Escobar in a fictional film entitled Medellin.
  • In the NCIS episode "Deliverance" (2009), it is implied that NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs killed a Colombian drug lord in 1992–1993 and was wounded in Colombia. It is not mentioned if the drug lord was Escobar, but it is strongly implied that it was either the killing of Escobar, or a similar situation.
  • The RCN TV Spanish-language telenovela series Tres Caínes (2013) tells the story of the brothers Castaño Gil, with Juan Pablo Franco portraying Pablo Escobar.
  • In a season three episode of Breaking Bad, Walter, Jr. explains to his father how he is reading a book about the search for Escobar given to him by his uncle Hank, who is recovering from a shooting at the hospital.
  • A Netflix television series depicting the story of Escobar - titled Narcos - was released on August 28, 2015, starring the Brazilian actor Wagner Moura as Pablo.


  • The Infiltrator
  • Escobar: Paradise Lost, (2014) Benicio del Toro played Escobar.
  • Cliff Curtis) as a supporting character.
  • In the film Clear and Present Danger (1994), the fictional character Ernesto Escobedo (portrayed by Miguel Sandoval) was based on Escobar.[48]
  • The 2008 film, Pablo, Angel o Demonio (English title: Pablo, Angel or demon) by Jorge Granier explores the mixed legacy of a man hailed in the Barrio as a saint while despised elsewhere as a demon. It is the highest grossing documentary of all time in Colombia.
  • Escobar (2009) has been delayed because of producer W. (2008). The release date of Escobar remains unconfirmed..[49] Regarding the film, Stone said: "This is a great project about a fascinating man who took on the system. I think I have to thank Scarface, and maybe even Ari Gold."[50]
  • In the ESPN broadcast 30 for 30 (2010), a series of sports-themed documentaries timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Entertainment and Sports Network, The Two Escobars, by directors Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, looks back at Colombia's World Cup run in 1994 and the relationship of sports and the country's criminal gangs—notably the Medellín narcotics cartel run by Escobar. The other Escobar in the film title refers to former Colombian National Team defender Andrés Escobar (no relation to Pablo), who was shot and killed one month after an own goal that cost Colombia in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.[51]
  • Killing Pablo (2011), in development for several years and directed by Joe Carnahan, is based on Mark Bowden’s eponymous 2001 book, which in turn is based on his 31-part Philadelphia Inquirer series of articles on the subject.[43][44] The cast was reported to include Christian Bale as Major Steve Jacoby and Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez as Escobar.[52][53] In December 2008, Bob Yari, producer of Killing Pablo, filed for bankruptcy.[54]
  • Caracol TV produced a television series, Pablo Escobar: El Patrón del Mal (Pablo Escobar, The Boss Of Evil), which began airing on 28 May 2012 and stars Andrés Parra as Pablo Escobar, Mauricio Mejía as a young Pablo Escobar, and Juan Pablo Franco as Gen. Miguel Maza Marquez.[55]
  • RTI Producciones produced a television series for RCN TV, Tres Caínes, which began on March 4, 2013 and stars Juan Pablo Franco as Pablo Escobar, but his character was crictized for looking like a stereotype.
  • John Leguizamo is to portray Escobar in the upcoming biopic El Patron, based on a screenplay by Matthew Aldrich.[56]
  • Animal Planet aired a documentary called Drug Kingpin Hippos that featured Escobar, although the real subject was one of his illegally imported Hippopotamus that was running amok.

Escobar has been the subject of numerous feature films, documentaries, and television shows. Two major feature films on the Colombian drug lord, Escobar and Killing Pablo, were announced in 2007,[47] around the same time.

Films and documentary television

Films and television

  • Mark Bowden’s book Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw (2001)[43][44] relates how Escobar was killed and his cartel dismantled by US special forces and intelligence, the Colombian military, and Los Pepes, controlled by the Cali Cartel.
  • Gabriel García Márquez' book, News of a Kidnapping (1998),[45] details the series of abductions that Escobar masterminded to pressure the then-Colombian government into guaranteeing him non-extradition if he turned himself in.
  • Photographer James Mollison's book The Memory of Pablo Escobar (2009) tells Pablo's story using over 350 photographs and documents.[46]

Escobar has been the subject of several books. The following are examples:


Artist Fernando Botero, a native of Antioquia, the same region as Escobar, portrayed Pablo Escobar's death in one of his paintings about the violence in Colombia.

Popular depiction

The body of Pablo Escobar was exhumed on October 28, 2006 at the request of some of their relatives in order to take a DNA sample to confirm the alleged paternity of an illegitimate child and remove all doubt about the identity of the body that had been buried next to his parents for 12 years. A video of the moment was broadcast by RCN, a fact that angered his son, Juan Sebastian Marroquin, who accused his uncle, Roberto Escobar Gaviria, and nephew, Nicolas Escobar, of being "merchants of death".

Escobar's widow, María Victoria Henao (now María Isabel Santos Caballero), son, Juan Pablo (now Sundance Film Festival and premiered in the US on HBO in October 2010.[42]


In August 2009, Vallejo testified in the case of Luis Carlos Galán's assassination, which had also been reopened.[39] She also accused several politicians, including Colombian presidents Alfonso López Michelsen, Ernesto Samper and Álvaro Uribe of links to the drug cartels. Uribe denied Vallejo's allegations.[40] On June 3, 2010, Vallejo was granted political asylum in the United States of America.

Among Escobar's biographers, only Vallejo has given a detailed explanation of his role in the 1985 Palace of Justice siege and the atrocities that took place before, during and after the tragedy. ("Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar", "Aquel Palacio en llamas", pages 227–264). The journalist stated that Escobar financed the operation, committed by the rebel M-19 group, but blamed the army for the killings of the Supreme Court Justices and the detained after the coup. In 2008, she was asked to testify in the reopened Palace case,[35] and in 2009 most of the events that she had described in her book and testimonial were confirmed by the Commission of Truth.[36] In 2010 and 2011, a high-ranking former colonel [37] and a former general [38] were sentenced to thirty and thirty-five years in prison for forced disappearance of the detained after the siege.

On July 16, 2006, Vallejo was taken to the United States in a special flight of the Drug Enforcement Administration.[31] According to the American Embassy in Bogotá, this was done for "safety and security reasons" because Vallejo’s cooperation was needed in high-profile criminal cases.[32] On July 24, 2006, a video in which Vallejo accused former Senator Alberto Santofimio of instigating Escobar to eliminate presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán in her presence was aired on Colombian television. In 2007, Vallejo published her book Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar[33] (Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar),[34] where she describes her relationship with the drug lord during the early years of the cocaine boom, and his charity projects for the poor when he was a deputy congressman. She gives her account of Escobar’s relationship with Caribbean governments and dictators and his role in the birth of the M.A.S. (Death to Kidnappers) and Los Extraditables (The Extraditables). Vallejo also gives her account of numerous incidents throughout Escobar's political and criminal career, such as the assassination of Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla in 1984, her lover's feud with the Cali Cartel and the era of narcoterrorism that began after the couple's farewell in September 1987.

On July 4, 2006, Virginia Vallejo, a television anchorwoman who was romantically involved with Escobar from 1983 to 1987, offered her testimony in the trial against former Senator Alberto Santofimio, accused of conspiracy in the 1989 assassination of Presidential Candidate Luis Carlos Galán, to the Colombian Attorney General Mario Germán Iguarán Arana. Iguarán acknowledged that, although Vallejo contacted his office on July 4, the judge had decided to close the trial on July 9, several weeks before the prospective closing date and, in (Iguarán's) opinion, "too soon".[30]

Virginia Vallejo's testimony

The Robin Hood image that he had cultivated continued to have lasting influence in Medellín. Many there, especially many of the city's poor who had been aided by him while he was alive, mourned his death. About 25,000 were present for his burial.[29]

After Escobar's death and the fragmentation of the Medellín Cartel, the cocaine market soon became dominated by the rival Cali Cartel, until the mid-1990s when its leaders, too, were either killed or captured by the Colombian government.

The war against Pablo Escobar ended on December 2, 1993; amid another attempt to elude the Search Bloc. Using radio triangulation technology, a Colombian electronic surveillance team, led by Brigadier Hugo Martínez,[24] found him hiding in a middle-class barrio in Medellín. With authorities closing in, a firefight with Escobar and his bodyguard, Alvaro de Jesús Agudelo (a.k.a. "El Limón"), ensued. The two fugitives attempted to escape by running across the roofs of adjoining houses to reach a back street, but both were shot and killed by Colombian National Police.[25] Escobar suffered gunshots to the leg and torso, and a fatal gunshot through the ear. It has never been proven who actually fired the final shot into his head, or determined whether this shot was made during the gunfight or as part of a possible execution, and there is wide speculation about the subject. Some of the family members believe that Escobar could have committed suicide.[26][27] His two brothers, Roberto Escobar and Fernando Sánchez Arellano, believe that he shot himself through the ears: "He committed suicide, he did not get killed. During all the years they went after him, he would say to me every day that if he was really cornered without a way out, he would shoot himself through the ears."[28]

Members of Colonel Hugo Martínez's Search Bloc celebrate over Pablo Escobar's body on December 2, 1993. His death ended a fifteen-month search effort that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and involved coordination between the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Colombian Police, and the vigilante group Los Pepes.

Death and aftermath

Members of the Search Bloc, and also of Colombian and the United States intelligence agencies, in their efforts to find and punish Escobar, either colluded with Los Pepes or moonlighted as both Search Bloc and Los Pepes simultaneously. This coordination was allegedly conducted mainly through the sharing of intelligence in order to allow Los Pepes to bring down Escobar and his few remaining allies, but there are reports that some individual Search Bloc members directly participated in missions of the Los Pepes death squads.[19] One of the leaders of Los Pepes was Diego Murillo Bejarano (also known as "Don Berna"), a former Medellín Cartel associate who became a drug kingpin and eventually emerged as a leader of one of the most powerful factions within the AUC.

In 1992, the United States Joint Special Operations Command (consisting of members of USN DEVGRU and Delta Force) and Centra Spike joined the manhunt for Escobar. They trained and advised a special Colombian police task force, known as the Search Bloc, which had been created to locate Escobar. Later, as the conflict between Escobar and the United States and Colombian governments dragged on and the numbers of his enemies grew, a vigilante group known as Los Pepes (Los Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar, "People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar") was financed by his rivals and former associates, including the Cali Cartel and right-wing paramilitaries led by Carlos Castaño, who would later fund the Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Córdoba and Urabá. Los Pepes carried out a bloody campaign fueled by vengeance in which more than 300 of Escobar's associates and relatives were slain and large amounts of his cartel's property were destroyed.

Search Bloc and Los Pepes

Accounts of Escobar's continued criminal activities began to surface in the media. When the government found out that Escobar was continuing his criminal activities within La Catedral, it attempted to move Escobar to a more conventional jail on July 22, 1992. Escobar's influence allowed him to discover the plan in advance and make a well-timed escape.[23] He was still worried that he could be extradited to the United States.

After declaring an end to a series of previous violent acts meant to pressure authorities and public opinion, Escobar surrendered to Colombian authorities in 1991. He was confined in what became his own luxurious private prison, La Catedral. Before Escobar gave himself up, the extradition of Colombian citizens had been prohibited by the newly approved Colombian Constitution of 1991. That was controversial, as it was suspected that Escobar or other drug lords had influenced members of the Constituent Assembly.

After the assassination of Luis Carlos Galán, a presidential candidate, the administration of César Gaviria moved against Escobar and the drug cartels. Eventually, the government negotiated with Escobar, convincing him to surrender and cease all criminal activity in exchange for a reduced sentence and preferential treatment during his captivity.

La Catedral prison

In March 1976 at the age of 27, Escobar married Maria Victoria who was 15 years old. Together they had two children: Juan Pablo (now Juan Sebastián Marroquín Santos) and Manuela. Escobar created and lived in a luxurious estate called Hacienda Nápoles and had planned to construct a Greek-style citadel near it. Construction of the citadel was started but never finished. The ranch, the zoo and the citadel were expropriated by the government and given to low-income families in the 1990s under a law called extinción de dominio (domain extinction). The property has been converted into a theme park surrounded by 4 luxury hotels overlooking the zoo and tropical park installation.[22]

Personal life

The Colombian cartels' continuing struggles to maintain supremacy resulted in Colombia quickly becoming the world’s murder capital with 25,100 violent deaths in 1991 and 27,100 in 1992.[20] This increased murder rate was fueled by Escobar's giving money to his hitmen as a reward for killing police officers, over 600 of whom died in this way.[21]

At the height of his power, drug traffickers from Medellín and other areas were handing over between 20% and 35% of their Colombian cocaine-related profits to Escobar, because he was the one who shipped the cocaine successfully to the US.

Escobar was responsible for the construction of many hospitals, schools and churches in western Colombia, which gained him popularity inside the local Roman Catholic Church.[19] He worked hard to cultivate his Robin Hood image, and frequently distributed money to the poor through housing projects and other civic activities, which gained him notable popularity among the poor. The population of Medellín often helped Escobar serving as lookouts, hiding information from the authorities, or doing whatever else they could to protect him.

While seen as an enemy of the United States and Colombian governments, Escobar was a hero to many in Medellín (especially the poor people); he was a natural at public relations and he worked to create goodwill among the poor people of Colombia. A lifelong sports fan, he was credited with building football fields and multi-sports courts, as well as sponsoring children's football teams.[8]

Pablo Escobar said that the essence of the cocaine business was "Simple: you bribe someone here, you bribe someone there, and you pay a friendly banker to help you bring the money back."[15] In 1989, Forbes magazine estimated Escobar to be one of 227 billionaires in the world with a personal net worth of close to US$3 billion [16] while his Medellín Cartel controlled 80% of the global cocaine market.[17] It is commonly believed that Escobar was the principal financier behind Medellín's Atlético Nacional who won South America's most prestigious football tournament, the Copa Libertadores in 1989.[18]

During the height of its operations, the cartel brought in more than $60 million per day. (Making roughly $22Bn a year)

Height of power

Corruption and intimidation characterized Escobar's dealings with the Colombian system. He had an effective, inescapable policy in dealing with law enforcement and the government, referred to as "plata o plomo", (literally silver or lead, colloquially [accept] money or [face] bullets). This resulted in the deaths of hundreds of individuals, including civilians, policemen and state officials. At the same time, Escobar bribed countless government officials, judges and other politicians. Escobar was allegedly responsible for the 1989 murder of Colombian presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, one of three assassinated candidates who were all competing in the same election, as well as the bombing of Avianca Flight 203 and the DAS Building bombing in Bogotá in 1989. The Medellín Cartel was also involved in a deadly drug war with its primary rival, the Cali Cartel, for most of its existence. It is sometimes alleged that Escobar backed the 1985 storming of the Colombian Supreme Court by left-wing guerrillas from the 19th of April Movement, also known as M-19, which resulted in the murder of half the judges on the court. Some of these claims were included in a late 2006 report by a Truth Commission of three judges of the current Supreme Court. One of those who discusses the attack is Jhon Jairo Velásquez, aka "Popeye",[13] a former Escobar hitman. At the time of the siege, the Supreme Court was studying the constitutionality of Colombia's extradition treaty with the U.S.[14] Roberto Escobar stated in his book, that indeed the M-19 were paid to break into the building of the supreme court, and burn all papers and files on Los Extraditables—the group of cocaine smugglers who were under threat of being extradited to the US by their Colombian government. But the plan backfired and hostages were taken for negotiation of their release, so Los Extraditables were not directly responsible for the actions of the M-19.

Soon, Escobar became known internationally as his drug network gained notoriety; the Medellín Cartel controlled a large portion of the drugs that entered into the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Spain with cocaine produced with coca from Peru and Bolivia through other drug dealers such as Roberto Suárez Goméz, since Colombian coca was initially of substandard quality and demand for more and better cocaine increased. Escobar's cocaine reached many other countries in America and Europe through Spain; it was even rumored his network reached as far as Asia.

In 1982, Escobar was elected as an alternate member of the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia as part of the Colombian Liberal Party.[12] He was the official representative of the Colombian government in the swearing in of Felipe González in Spain.

[1] At one point, it was estimated that seventy to eighty tons of cocaine were being shipped from Colombia to the U.S. every month. At the peak of his power in the mid-1980s, he was shipping as much as eleven tons per flight in jetliners to the United States (the biggest load shipped by Pablo was 23,000 kg mixed with fish paste and shipped via boat, as confirmed by his brother in the book Escobar). In addition to using the planes, Pablo's brother, Roberto Escobar, said he also used two small remote-controlled submarines to transport the massive loads (these subs were, in fact, manned and this is again documented in Roberto's book).[11]

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