Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria

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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.

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Pablo Escobar, the godfather of the Medellin Cartel. 1988 Escobar at the height of his power. IMAGE: ERIC VANDEVILLE/GAMMA-RAPHO/GETTY IMAGES

Pablo Escobar, the godfather of the Medellin Cartel. 1988. Escobar at the height of his power.

He Once Burned $2 Million

When his family were hiding at a farm in the mountains surrounding Medellín, Escobar burned $2 million to save his daughter from the cold weather. Puts Dad buying you a new football into perspective.

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was born December 1, 1949, in the town of Rionegro, nestled in the Northern Andes not far from the city of Medellin in the Colombian province of Antioquia. The son of a peasant farmer and a schoolteacher, there was nothing in Escobar’s background to suggest the meteoric and spectacularly sociopathic trajectory his life would follow.

Before he was a murderous drug lord, Pablo Escobar was part of his neighbourhood Boy Scout troop. He would cut his neighbours’ lawns to raise money, go camping on the weekends, and watch cowboy movies with the rest of his prepubescent cohort. Escobar also filled his personal library — which he decorated with a human skull he had dug out of the graveyard — with Communist texts by Vladimir Lenin and Mao Tse-tung.

Pablo Escobar made his debut in the world of crime by selling fake high school diplomas with his cousin Gustavo Gaviria. He and his cousin also learned how to copy their teachers’ handwriting to fake final grade reports and stole the answers to difficult exams so they could sell them. After providing dozens of people with falsified academic documents, Escobar and his cousin moved on to a variety of other criminal schemes like stealing cars, robbing movie theatre ticket windows, and selling stolen tombstones.

While fairly well-educated, he never had a reputation as a brilliant intellect. Rather, like Al Capone, his main “talent” was an unlimited capacity for violence.

When poverty forced Escobar to drop out of Antioquia’s provincial university in 1966, he started stealing cars and trafficking marijuana, which made him a millionaire at 22. Next he invested his fortune in the nascent cocaine business, monopolizing local coca production by paying peasant farmers twice the going rate and investing in coca cultivation in the remote mountain valleys of Peru and Bolivia, far from weak central governments.

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