Although Pablo Escobar died 21 years ago, but his tumultuous story lives on.
Born December 1, 1949 in Rionegro, Colombia.
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was a Colombian drug Lord and drug trafficker.
His cartel, at the height of his career, supplied an estimated 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States, turning over US $21.9 billion a year in personal income.
Often called “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 (equivalent to about $54 billion as of 2015), making him one of the richest men in the world at his prime.
After briefly studying at Universidad Autónoma Latino americana of Medellín, he left without a degree and began to engage in criminal activity that involved selling contraband cigarettes, along with fake lottery tickets, and participated in motor vehicle theft.
In the 1970s he began to work for various contraband smugglers, often kidnapping and holding people for ransom before beginning to distribute powder cocaine himself, as well as establishing the first smuggling routes into the United States, in 1975.
His infiltration to the drug market of the U.S. expanded exponentially due to the rising demand for cocaine and, by the 1980s, it was estimated that over 70 to 80tons of cocaine were being shipped from Colombia to the U.S. on a monthly basis.
His drug network was commonly known as the Medellín Cartel, which often competed with rival cartels domestically and abroad, resulting in high-rate massacres and the deaths of police officers, judges, locals and prominent politicians.
At the height of his career the notorious Colombian drug lord supplied around 80% of all the cocaine smuggled into the States.
His involvement in the drug trade brought him fame, power and riches with an estimated $30 billion fortune.
He started his criminal career early. When he was a teen he would roam the streets of Medellin, stealing cars, tombstones, sandblasting the names and selling them on to smugglers in Panama.
In 1975 he began cocaine trafficking. The government referred to his inescapable and effective policy in dealing with the law as “PlataO Plomo” (literally “Silver or Lead” , which meant “Accept Money, or Face Bullets).
In 1979 Escobar was ranked the seventh richest man in Forbes’ list of international billionaires.
The top ten that year included Japan’s real estate baron, Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, Fiat’s Giovanni Agnelli and the Benetton family.
He had so much cash that he spent $2,500 a month on rubber bands to hold the cash together.
Pablo Escobar lost 10% of his annual income to rats which would eat the stashed currency notes.
Once Pablo Escobar entered the drug trade, cash began to flow in rapidly.
He earned so much that he had to hide the piles of cash in Colombian farming fields, dilapidated warehouses and in the walls of the cartel members’ homes.
Some of these cash piles would be eaten by rats or turn moldy due to water seepage resulting in a loss of 10% of his annual income (that would be 2.1 billion USD).
If this man is still alive today and he offers you a job of $10,000 weekly to arrange and care for his cash in the farm/warehouse, will you take it?
He smuggled cocaine into America using planes, stocking them in the plane’s tyres.
To handle the free-flowing wealth that came his way uninterrupted, Escobar bought a Learjet for the sole purpose of flying his money.
Escobar’s personal Learjet could hold and transport $10 million worth of cash back from the U.S. to his home in Colombia.
The pilots could earn up to $500,000 a day for their efforts.
In the 1980s everyone was dying for a line and demand for cocaine skyrocketed.
During this time Escobar’s cartel were smuggling 15-tons of the stuff into the States, equal to the weight of two African elephants.
Although being a drug lord and leader of an infamous cartel isn’t the most revered profession, Escobar was celebrated by the Columbian people.
Despite his horrific business dealings he was known to give money (which he had quite a lot of) to churches and hospitals.
He built schools, hospitals, orphanages, parks and soccer stadiums and establish food programmes, which earned him the nickname ‘Robin Hood’.
Pablo Escobar offered to pay off Colombia’s 20billion USD of foreign debt in order to avoid extradition to the US.
When the Colombian government turned the heat on drug trade, Pablo Escobar approached the government with an unusual peace treaty.
He offered to invest the cartel’s money into the national development programs and also pay off the foreign debt in return for not getting extradited to US.
The Colombian government refused.
When the kingpin was forced to go on the run his daughter became sick with pneumonia.
He burned $2 million of cash to keep her warm.
Escobar was responsible for the deaths of up to 4,000 people.
Including members of the police force, court judges and journalists.
Pablo Escobar blew up an aircraft in an attempt to kill a Presidential candidate who supported his extradition.
Pablo Escobar through his henchmen blew up the Avianca flight 203 on November 27th, 1989.
The bombing of the plane was considered the deadliest single criminal attack in many decades of the Colombian violence.
The bomb was planted intending to kill the then Presidential candidate, Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, a politician who supported Pablo Escobar’s extradition process between Colombia and the US.
Gaviria, however, was not on the flight.
Instead, all 107 people on board the aircraft were killed including 2 Americans.
He revealed that his greatest fear was jail.
He was once quoted saying, “I’d rather be in a grave in Columbia than a cell in the United States.”
Pablo Escobar designed and built his own prison complete with waterbeds, entertainment systems and was protected by guards he personally chose.
In 1991, Pablo Escobar agreed to surrender to the Colombian authorities but on his terms.
The Colombian government accepted the terms and thus La catedral came into existence.
La Catedral was a five-star prison designed and built by Pablo Escobar for his confinement.
The luxury prison had waterbeds, entertainment systems and an unbroken view of Medellin mountains.
From this prison, he conducted his business, ordered the deaths of his detractors, hosted booze and drug filled parties, enjoyed his barbecue and football.
He selected his own bodyguards and no Colombian authorities were allowed within three-mile radius of this luxurious prison.
One of Pablo Escobar’s most efficient cocaine labs was a village on wheels.
Cocaine labs employing hundreds of people were built deep inside a forest.
These labs became small cities with schools, canteens and medical centers.
One of the efficient labs was a huge farm on the borders of Venezuela. This lab was a village on wheels.
When a flight was due to pick up or drop off a consignment, the houses in this village would be wheeled back, exposing the landing strip and wheeled forward again when the plane took off.
December 3, 1993, Escobar was shot dead by a special police force after being on the run for 7 months.
His run-ins with the law came to an end in 1993 when he was gunned down at his aunt’s house.
Escobar tried to escape police capture by fleeing to the rooftop with his bodyguard.
Neither of them made it.