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Escobar was responsible for killing about 4,000 people, including an estimated 200 judges and 1,000 police, journalists, and government officials.

‘King of Coke’

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was a Colombian born drug kingpin and often referred to as the ‘King of coke’. The drug lord’s ambition and ruthlessness made him one of the wealthiest, most powerful and most violent criminals of all time. Escobar, at one point, was the biggest drug dealer in the world. He sold a lot of drugs, made mountains of money, and was utterly ruthless. He was single-handedly responsible for starting the drug cartels that plague Central and South America today.

He controlled such a vast empire of drugs and murder that it covered the globe. He made billions of dollars, ordered the murder of hundreds, if not thousands of people, and ruled over a personal empire of mansions, aeroplanes; a private zoo and even his own army of soldiers and hardened criminals.

The ‘Medellin Cartel’ was formed by him in collaboration with other criminals to ship cocaine to the American market. The 1970s and 1980s saw Pablo Escobar and the ‘Medellin Cartel’ enjoying near monopoly in the cocaine smuggling business in the U.S. shipping over 80% of the total drug smuggled in the country. He earned billions of dollars and by the early 90s, his known estimated net worth was $30 billion. The earnings sum up to around $100 billion when money buried in various parts of Colombia are included. In 1989 Forbes mentioned him as the seventh wealthiest person in the world. He led an extravagant life with the fortune he made. His empire included four hundred luxury mansions across the world. He also had his own army of soldiers and seasoned criminals. While his vast empire was built on murders and crimes, he was known for sponsoring soccer clubs and charity projects.

In the 1980s, Escobar’s Medellin cartel was responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine that was sent to the United States.

There are many facts about Pablo Escobar that confirm his mythological status. At the height of his power, Escobar was making $40 million a week. He bought a Lear jet just to fly his money. And he once burned a barrel of 2 million dollars to keep his daughter warm.

His public and private personas exist in stark contrast to one another. Escobar is rightfully regarded as a butcher who would do anything to attain and maintain power: it’s estimated that his organization was responsible for at least 4,000 deaths during his reign. In private, Escobar was a man who put his family first to the point that his affection for his family allowed the Colombian government to track and kill him.

Escobar had a peak net worth of $30 billion dollars during his lifetime. When he was alive, Pablo Escobar ran off the most infamous and violent drug cartels in history, The Medellin Drug Cartel. At the peak of its power, the Medellin cartel distributed 80% of the world’s cocaine market. Along the way, Pablo and his cartel was responsible for thousands, possibly even tens of thousands, of murders. Many of these murders were innocent civilians. Pablo’s time on earth was literally a reign of terror for his home country of Colombia. He was eventually imprisoned but continued to run the Medellin Cartel from inside.

Using his connections, he escaped in 1992 and remained on the run until he was shot and killed on the rooftop of an apartment complex in 1993. By that time, Pablo was being hunted by a small army made up of Colombian drug police, DEA agents and American special forces soldiers. When Pablo was alive and his cartel was thriving, he employed ten accountants to help launder hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit currency. He reportedly spent $2500 a month just on rubber bands to wrap all the money.

That’s enough to buy 250,000 rubber bands every month. Because much of the money was being stored in basements and walls, Pablo was supposedly forced to write off $500 million in cash every year due to spoilage. Spoilage could include water damage and fires, but more common was starving rats that ate the money thinking it was food. At one point while Pablo was on the run, he offered to pay off Colombia’s entire national debt, totalling more than $10 billion, if they passed a law to make extradition illegal.

Sins of my Father, Pablo Escobar with his wife Maria Victoria, son Juan Pablo, and daughter Manuela Escobar.

Pablo was born to Abel de Jesús Dari Escobar, who was a farmer, and Hermilda Gaviria, an elementary school teacher. Born on December 1, 1949, into a lower-middle-class family, young Pablo grew up in the Medellín suburb of Envigado. As a young man, he was driven and ambitious, telling friends and family that he wanted to be President of Colombia some day.

His mother had seven children and at times money was hard to come by. Pablo saw the struggle that his mother had and at the mere age of 5 years old, Pablo told his mother “mom, wait until I grew up, I will give you everything.”

As a teenager on the streets of Medellín, Colombia, Pablo started his criminal career by going to cemeteries and stealing gravestones. He would then sand them down and resell them to smugglers in Panama.

Despite being well-educated and even studying political science at La Universidad de Antioquia for a short time, Escobar found himself struggling to pay his university fees and dropping out. A penchant for money and his ability as a leader saw him turn to a life of organised crime, bringing together other drug traffickers to form the Medellín cartel in the late 1970s.

As he grew older, Escobar got involved in more serious criminal activities. These would include petty street scams, selling fake lottery tickets, selling contraband cigarettes and also stealing automobiles.

His First Big Payday Was a Kidnapping. Before he made the big step into the drug business, he kidnapped and ransomed a Medellín executive for $100,000.

His next step up in the criminal world was to work with Alvaro Prieto, a contraband smuggler.

Before getting into the drug trade, Escobar sold stolen tombstones to smugglers and was also into the business of stealing cars.

It was in the 1970s that he found his path to wealth and power: drugs. He would buy coca paste in Bolivia and Peru, refine it, and transport it for sale in the US.

In 1975, a local Medellín drug lord named Fabio Restrepo was murdered, reportedly on the orders of Escobar himself. Stepping into the power vacuum, Escobar took over Restrepo’s organization and expanded his operations. Before long, Escobar controlled all crime in Medellín and was responsible for as much as 80% of the cocaine transported into the United States.

In 1982, he was elected to Colombia’s Congress. With economic, criminal and political power, Escobar’s rise was complete.

At the Start of His Cocaine Operation, He Flew Drugs Into the United States Himself. With the drug operation just starting up, Escobar would fly planes himself between Colombia and Panama, along the drug smuggling routes into the United States. The first plane he used was decommissioned and he hung it above the gate to his ranch at Hacienda Napoles.

Roberto Escobar used to keep track of all the money earned by Pablo Escobar as his accountant. At its peak when ‘Medellin Cartel’ smuggled 15 tons of cocaine daily to the U.S. worth over half a billion dollars.

Colombian football collapsed in the most spectacular manner and only now is it starting to rebuild itself. The 2014 World Cup was Colombia’s first appearance at a major tournament in two decades.

Escobar lived the clichéd life of a drug kingpin with parties, luxury mansions, and apartments across the country and even a private zoo, but it was his generosity with his wealth that really captured the hearts and minds of the working class in Colombia. The divide between the rich and the poor was enormous and the privileged members of society tended to consolidate their money and power between themselves.

Pablo became a legend amongst the people of Colombia who likened him to a modern-day Robin Hood. With the billions, he made from cocaine he built housing, schools, churches, parks and football pitches for the impoverished masses of Medellín. He was a man who never forgot his roots, revered by the poor and despised by the rich.

Football played an important role in Colombian life, providing a release from the struggles of poverty. Whole communities would come together to partake in tournaments organised in the slums and forget their worries at home. Many of the country’s most talented footballers were moulded on the pitches of Pablo Escobar.

Escobar himself formed close relationships with some of the best players in Colombia, inviting them to his ranch to play football. He would organise all-star matches at his mansion and bet millions of dollars on the outcome of the game with rival cartel leaders such as Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela of the Cali Cartel.

This was just the start of Escobar’s foray into Colombian football. With an ever-burgeoning flow of illicit cash, he needed a method to legalise his earnings. Football proved to be the perfect vehicle for money laundering.

It would be relatively easy to move millions of dollars through a football club, leveraging a number of standard transactions such as player transfers and ticket sales. Ticket sales could be falsified and player transfer fees exacerbated thus legalising an additional one or two million dollars as a club owner saw fit, allowing Escobar to launder millions of dollars through his football teams.

The Colombian began to invest heavily in Medellín side Atlético Nacional whose meteoric rise during the late 1980s was funded almost entirely by his drug money. The massive influx of cash meant that Nacional could hire the best coaches and pay the salaries required to prevent their most talented players from moving abroad.

Coached by Francisco Maturana, Nacional went on to win the Copa Libertadores for the first time in their history in 1989 with a squad brimming with home-grown talent such as René Higuita, Andrés Escobar and Leonel Álvarez. Nacional beat Club Olimpia of Paraguay 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw over two legs.  Legendary goalkeeper Higuita scored his own spot kick and saved four penalties in what was a dramatic shootout before Álvarez eventually scored the decisive kick to secure the trophy for Nacional.

The entire Nacional team were then invited to celebrate their historic victory at Escobar’s ranch where they would all receive individual cash bonuses too.

It was not just Escobar and the Medellín cartel that were pumping money into football clubs; other wealthy and powerful drug lords followed suit. Millonarios had El Mexicano, José Gonzalo Rodríguez, and América de Cali had El Señor, Miguel Rodríguez of the Cali Cartel. Colombian football was booming thanks to the influence of the drug trade and Narco-fútbol was born.

Escobar’s power extended from football to politics and he employed any manner of methods maintain his incredible influence. The power of the Medellín cartel meant things were simple: you either paid people or killed people, and Escobar had a distinguished record for both.

The prison known as “The Cathedral”, where late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was held, in the Envigado municipality, near Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on November 24, 2013. The place was once a prison known as “The Cathedral”, where Escobar was held. December 2, 2013, marks the 20th anniversary Escobar’s death. AFP PHOTO/Raul ARBOLEDA

Escobar quickly became legendary for his ruthlessness and an increasing number of politicians, judges, and policemen, publicly opposed him. Escobar had a way of dealing with his enemies: he called it “plata o plomo,” literally, silver or lead.

Usually, if a politician, judge or policeman got in his way, he would first attempt to bribe them. If that didn’t work, he would order them killed, occasionally including their family in the hit. The exact number of honest men and women killed by Escobar is unknown, but it definitely goes well into the hundreds and possibly into the thousands.

Social status did not matter to Escobar; if he wanted you out of the way, he’d get you out of the way. He ordered the assassination of presidential candidates and was even rumoured to be behind the 1985 attack on the Supreme Court, carried out by the 19th of April insurrectionist movement in which several Supreme Court Justices were killed. On November 27, 1989, Escobar’s Medellín cartel planted a bomb on Avianca flight 203, killing 110 people. The target, a presidential candidate, was not actually on board. In addition to these high-profile assassinations, Escobar and his organization were responsible for the deaths of countless magistrates, journalists, policemen and even criminals inside his own organization.

Colombian Government Photo

The term “narco-terrorism” is often attributed to Peru’s President Belaunde Terry in 1983, to describe attacks by cocaine traffickers against the police, who suspected that the Maoist rebel group, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), had found common ground with cocaine traffickers. It has been used to mean violence waged by drug producers to extract political concessions from the government. The most famous example of this was the battle waged in the 1980s by Pablo Escobar, head of the Medellin drug cartel, against the Colombian government by way of assassinations, hijackings and bombings. Escobar wanted Colombia to revise its extradition treaty, which it eventually did.

Narcoterrorism has also been used to refer to groups understood to have political intentions that engage in or support drug trafficking to fund their activities. Groups such as the Colombian FARC and the Taliban in Afghanistan, among others, fall into this category. On paper, references to narco-terrorism of this sort suggest that trafficking merely funds a distinct political agenda. In fact, the drug trafficking and armed violence by group members can become an autonomous activity to which politics is secondary.

In this case, the only distinction between narco-terrorists and criminal gangs is the label.

This is the bedroom of the luxurious private prison, La Catedral, where Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar will be confined, seen August 1992. (AP Photo)

By the mid- 1980s, Pablo Escobar was one of the most powerful men in the world. Forbes magazine listed him as the seventh-richest man in the world.

His empire included an army of soldiers and criminals, a private zoo, mansions and apartments all over Colombia, private airstrips and planes for drug transport and personal wealth reported to be in the neighbourhood of $24 billion. He could order the murder of anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Escobar was a brilliant criminal, and he knew that he would be safer if the common people of Medellín loved him. Therefore, he spent millions on parks, schools, stadiums, churches and even housing for the poorest of Medellín’s inhabitants. His strategy worked: Escobar was beloved by the common people, who saw him as a local boy who had done well and was giving back to his community.

In 1976, he married 15-year-old Maria Victoria Henao Vellejo, and they would later have two children, Juan Pablo and Manuela.

Escobar was famous for his extramarital affairs, and he tended to prefer underage girls. One of his girlfriends, Virginia Vallejo, went on to become a famous Colombian Television personality. In spite of his affairs, he remained married to María Victoria until his death.

To arrive at La Catedral, you pass scattered country homes on the road up the mountain, either in a car or by walking an hour from the last stop on the bus line. On weekends, the climb is filled with mountain bikers. The first encounter with Escobar’s era as you approach the compound is a preserved concrete lookout tower a few hundred meters below the main building complex. The last stretch before arriving at the prison levels out after the steep climb, bringing you to the access gate.

Escobar’s first serious run-in with the law was in 1976 when he and some associates were caught returning from a drug run to Ecuador. Escobar ordered the killing of the arresting officers, and the case was soon dropped. Later, at the height of his power, Escobar’s wealth and ruthlessness made it almost impossible for Colombian authorities to bring him to justice. Any time an attempt was made to limit his power; those responsible were bribed, killed, or otherwise neutralized. The pressure was mounting, however, from the United States government, which wanted Escobar extradited to face drug charges. Escobar had to use all of his power and terror to prevent extradition.

In 1991, due to increasing pressure to extradite Escobar, the Colombian government and Escobar’s lawyers came up with an interesting arrangement: Escobar would turn himself in and serve a five-year jail term. In return, he would build his own prison and would not be extradited to the United States or anywhere else.

The prison, La Catedral, was an elegant fortress which featured a Jacuzzi, a waterfall, a full bar and a soccer field. In addition, Escobar had negotiated the right to select his own “guards.” He ran his empire from inside La Catedral, giving orders by telephone. There were no other prisoners in La Catedral. Today, La Catedral is in ruins, hacked to pieces by treasure hunters looking for hidden Escobar loo

From the gate, the main road empties into a parking lot where you are greeted by a grey and white cat with a barroom brawl nose, who now watches over the grounds instead of 40 prison guards. The parking lot is built over the former soccer field. It’s here that Escobar held court, conducting trials of his subordinates that often resulted in murders and tortures, and where he would play soccer with stars from the Colombia national team.

The Honey Valley rests southeast of Medellin in the mountainous outskirts of the neighbouring town, Envigado. Tracts of native forest still cover large sections of the area, although new home construction has felled much during the past few years. In the forests, you find armadillos, sloths and large, iridescent butterflies.

Pablo Escobar chose an area high above this valley in the cool mountains for his self-designed prison as part of an agreement he worked out with Colombian authorities. By ’91, a decade of building an empire of enemies was causing the collapse of Escobar’s life around him. A vigilante group named Los Pepes (short for “People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar”) was pursuing him and would eventually assassinate more than 300 of his associates and family. He was at war with the Cali Cartel. He had seen fellow drug lords like Carlos Lehder extradited to the United States, others like the Ochoa brothers turn themselves in to serve time in Colombian prisons and still others like Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, alias “El Mexicano,” die in gun battles with the police. His daughter Manuela had been injured in a bombing of his home. He was a man succumbing to the constant pressure of being hunted.

Six months of secret negotiations brought a deal with the Colombian government. Escobar would go to jail — the prison, however, would be built to his specifications on three hectares of land that he had bought in preparation of a possible agreement with the state. As part of the arrangement, he would also have the right to choose his guards. Always very close with his family, the location allowed him a direct sightline to his family’s home and it is said that he mounted a telescope to be able to see his daughter while he talked with her on the phone.

Entering prison not only gave Escobar protection from possible assassins, but also from what he was most afraid of: extradition to the United States. He feared a system in which prison guards and judges could not be easily bribed. One of his mottoes was “Better a grave in Colombia than a cell in the U.S.”

In return, Colombia would have Escobar in prison for five years and rid themselves of a national headache and embarrassment, even if only temporarily. Escobar’s bombings and bribes had pushed the state to the point of collapse in the 1980s; his imprisonment would be a landmark. The arrangement also brought an end to the costs and time invested in the endless pursuit of the cartel boss. So on June 19, 1991, Escobar arrived at the prison in a helicopter to serve his time.

The compound was called “La Catedral,” or The Cathedral. The reference wasn’t religious but a nod towards its grandeur. Unofficially it was called “Club Medellin” or “Hotel Escobar,” and “resort” would be a more apt description of it than “prison.” Escobar’s designs featured a bathroom with a jacuzzi and a bedroom that had a circular, rotating bed. The compound included a soccer field, a discotheque, a doll house for his daughter and its own bar. There was a waterfall. It had cellular phones, radio transmitters and a fax machine to allow him to continue with business, which at its peak brought his cartel $60 million dollars a day and oversaw control of up to 80 percent of the cocaine shipped to the United States.

While Escobar was living at La Catedral, his family made the trip up from Envigado to visit him three or four times a week, as did friends, professional soccer players and prostitutes when he wished. He hosted drug and booze-fueled parties with regularity. Authorities allowed him to run the place — until, that is, he ordered four of his lieutenants tortured and killed at the compound in a dispute over money.

Throughout the compound, adornment abounds: mosaic work, Gaudi-like moulded railings, last year’s Christmas decorations and bright paintings of flowers, animals, monks and peasants. Colorful plantings fill the grounds, tended by a gardener with a transistor radio and machete.

Everyone knew that Escobar was still running his operation from La Catedral, but in July of 1992, it became known that Escobar had ordered some disloyal underlings brought to his “prison,” where they were tortured and killed. This was too much for even the Colombian government, and plans were made to transfer Escobar to a normal prison.

It was then that the government decided things had gone too far and decided to move Escobar to a military installation. Two unarmed officials — a deputy justice minister and the chief of the national prison system — came to inform the cartel boss of the changes. They told him that it was a temporary move until La Catedral could be made more secure.

Escobar balked. One of his associates, nicknamed “Popeye,” repeatedly pointed a submachine gun at the minister. The officials were told that they would be leaving La Catedral dead. As Escobar and several other drug traffickers debated their murder, two explosions and gunfire bursts rang out. Colombian soldiers had arrived from Bogota to capture Escobar and rescue his hostages.

On July 22, 1992, while the hostages were rescued, Escobar escaped with most of his men, melting into the mountain behind his cathedral. Exactly how he was able to do so remains an open question. He had bribed his way to the highest levels of Colombia’s military, political, and judicial structures; his easy escape suggested to many the complicity of his guards and the government soldiers. The cartel boss had stayed only 13 months at La Catedral. A YouTube video recorded by a journalist shows the compound immediately after his escape, offering a sense of the luxury in which he passed his time there:

Carcel donde estuvo Pablo Escobar

Escobar’s escape was a national embarrassment for Colombia, which turned to the United States for help in mounting a massive manhunt for him. Members of the U.S. Delta Force and Navy SEALs joined a 600-member Special Operations unit of the National Police of Colombia known as the Search Bloc to hunt for “Don Pablo.” Los Pepes joined the pursuit as well and were fed information by the Search Bloc to carry out extrajudicial killings; journalist and author Mark Bowden writes in his book Killing Pablo that the United States also supplied information to Los Pepes, although his allegation has been contended by the U.S. government.

On the lam, Escobar spent every night in a different safe house. He could never speak on the phone for more than three minutes. Six million dollars were offered for his capture. Seventeen months later, a day after his 44th birthday, he would be dead.

On December 2, 1993, Colombian security forces using US technology located Escobar hiding in a home in a middle-class section of Medellín. The Search Bloc moved in, triangulating his position, and attempted to bring him into custody. Escobar fought back, however, and there was a shootout. Escobar was eventually gunned down as he attempted to escape on the rooftop. He had been shot in the torso and leg, but the fatal wound had come through his ear, leading many to believe that he committed suicide, and many others to believe that one of the Colombian policemen had executed him.

With Escobar gone, the Medellín Cartel quickly lost power to its ruthless rival, the Cali Cartel, which remained dominant until the Colombian government shut it down in the mid-1990s. Escobar is still remembered by the poor of Medellín as a benefactor. He has been the subject of numerous books, movies, and websites, and fascination continues with this master criminal, who once ruled one of the greatest crime empires in history.

A photograph of Escobar sits overlooking the main parking lot, part of a montage of images most of the newly built asylum. This photograph is a reproduction of the only known image of Escobar at La Catedral. In it, he holds onto window bars and wears a Russian wool hat, given to him by his mother after her visit to Moscow to make sure her son would keep warm during the cold nights up on his mountain. Near this large photograph, we see a preserved area of ruins. Ferns line concrete stairs leading to the collapsed foundations of one of Escobar’s bedrooms. Another plaque offers perhaps more information than it intends: “The ruins of what was one of the pleasure bedrooms, with a round and rotating bed, of Senor Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria.”

Like many of the other properties formerly owned by Escobar that still dot Medellin’s cityscape, La Catedral lay vacant for many years as the city ignored it. Bathtubs, pipes, tiles and roof materials were stripped; many of the homes in the El Salado neighbourhood of Envigado are made with building materials from the prison. Rumours of buried bins filled with millions of dollars enticed thousands of hunters, including soldiers and police — one treasure-seeker even brought a psychic to aid in the search. Walls were dismantled, the grounds dug up. Not a dollar was ever found. Frustrated in their attempts, treasure hunters often left with a brick or other souvenir of the prison. In this way, La Catedral was slowly carried away back down the mountain during the first decade after Escobar’s escape. Eventually, little was left beyond the foundations.

Today, Pablo’s prison has changed in a way he almost certainly could not have imagined: It is a home for the elderly run by Benedictine monks, who moved in and transformed it.

The property came into the hands of the city of Envigado, and in 2007, a group of Benedictine monks from the Benedictina Fraternidad Monastica Santa Gertrudis arrived at the site for study and prayer, living something close to a hermitic existence. They built a chapel, living quarters, a cafeteria and a library. The city eventually ceded the entire land to them so that they could build an asylum for the poor and elderly of Envigado. Construction continues today.

Criminal Career

  • In 1975, after he returned to Medellin from Ecuador with a heavy load, he was arrested along with his men. Thirty-nine pounds of white paste was found in their possession. He failed in an attempt to bribe the judges of his case and later killed the two arresting officers resulting in dropping of his case. Soon he started applying his tactics of either bribing or killing to deal with the authorities.
  • Earlier, he used to smuggle cocaine in old tyres of planes and a pilot would receive $500,000 per flight. Later when its demand in the U.S. escalated, he arranged for additional shipments and alternative routes and networks including California and South Florida.
  • In collaboration with Carlos Lehder he developed Norman’s Clay in the Bahamas as the new island trans-shipment point. Between 1978 and 1982, this point remained the main route of smuggling for the Medellin Cartel’.
  • He shelled out several million dollars and purchased 7.7 square miles of land which includes his estate ‘Hacienda Napoles’.
  • The mid-1980s saw him at the peak of his power smuggling about 11 tons of cocaine per flight to the U.S. According to Roberto Escobar, Pablo Escobar also employed two remote controlled submarines to smuggle cocaine.
  • In 1982, the ‘Colombian Liberal Party’ elected him to the ‘Chamber of Representatives of Colombia’ as an alternate member. He represented the Colombian government officially at the swearing ceremony of Felipe Gonzalez in Spain.
  • Another allegation against Escobar was that he backed the left-wing guerrillas of the ‘19th April Movement’ (M-19) who stormed the Colombian Supreme Court in 1985. Many of the judges on the court were murdered and files and papers were destroyed at a time when the court was considering Colombia’s extradition treaty with the United States The treaty would have allowed the country to extradite drug lords to the United States for prosecution.
  • As his network expanded and gained notoriety, he became infamous worldwide. By that time the ‘Medellin Cartel’ controlled a major portion of drug trafficking covering the United States, Spain, Mexico, Dominic Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and other countries of Europe and America. Rumours that his network reached Asia were also doing the rounds.
  • His policy to deal with the Colombian system that encompassed intimidation and corruption was referred as ‘plata o plomo’. Though literally it means ‘silver or lead’ in his dictionary, it meant either accept ‘money’ or face ‘bullets’. His criminal activities included killings of hundreds of state officials, civilians and policemen and bribing politicians, judges and government officials.
  • By 1989 his ‘Medellin Cartel’ was in control of 80% of cocaine market in the world. It was generally believed that he was the chief financier of the Colombian football team ‘Medellín’s Atlético Nacional’. He was also credited for developing multi-sports courts, football fields and aiding children’s football team.
  • Although he was considered an enemy of the Colombian government and the U.S., he was successful in creating goodwill among the poor people. He was instrumental in building schools, churches and hospitals in western Colombia and also donated money for housing projects of the poor. He was quite popular in the local Roman Catholic Church and the locals of Medellin often helped and protected him including hiding him from authorities.
  • His empire became so powerful that other drug smugglers gave away 20% to 35% of their profit to him for smooth shipment of their cocaine to the U.S.
  • In 1989, he was accused of getting Luis Carlos Galan, a Colombian presidential candidate, assassinated. He was also accused of the bombings at the ‘DAS Building’ in Bogota and at the Avianca Flight 203.
  • After the murder of Luis Carlos Galan the Cesar Gavitis led administration acted against him. The government negotiated with him to surrender on condition of a lesser sentence along with favourable treatment during his imprisonment.
  • In 1991, he surrendered to the Colombian government and was kept in La Catedral that was converted into a private luxurious prison. Before he surrendered the newly approved Colombian Constitution prohibited extradition of Colombian citizens which was suspected to be influenced by Escobar and other drug mafias.
  • On July, 1992, after finding that Escobar was operating his criminal activities from La Catedral, the government tried to shift him to a more conventional jail. However, he came to know of such plan through his influence and made a timely escape.
  • The U.S. ‘Joint Special Operations Command’ and ‘Centra Spike’ jointly started hunting him in 1992. ‘Search Bloc’ a special Colombian task force was trained by them for this purpose.
  • The ‘Los Pepes’ (Los Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar, “People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar”) a vigilante group aided by rivals and former associates of Pablo Escobar executed a bloody carnage. This resulted in killing of around 300 relatives and associates of Escobar and destruction of huge amount of property of his cartel.
  • Co-ordination among ‘Search Bloc’, the Colombian and U.S. intelligence agencies and ‘Los Pepes’ through intelligence sharing so that ‘Los Pepes’ to bring down Escobar and his remaining few allies.
 


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