A lot has been said and written about the most notorious and successful drug baron in history Pablo Escobar. This Columbian native was born with the full name Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria to father, Abel de Jesús Dari Escobar Echeverri, who was a farmer, and mother, Hemilda de Los Dolores Gaviria Berrío, an elementary school teacher. Pablo Escobar grew up in Medellin to become a man that would gain popularity not only in his locality but also globally. He was cunning and very skillful in executing his deals which made it a herculean task to track him down. However, Pablo eventually met his waterloo in 1993. Know more about the King of Cocaine in the 12 facts listed below.
12 Things You Didn’t Know About The King of Cocaine
1. Escobar Built his Cocaine Empire from Scratch
Pablo Escobar did not start out as a drug lord, he allegedly started by stealing tombstones, forging and selling high school diplomas and university certificates as a teenager. From that, he graduated into street scams, sale of contraband cigarettes and fake lottery tickets, car theft, etc. He even worked for Alvaro Prieto, an illegal smuggler around Medellin and he was able to make over $3 m
illion by the time he turned 26 in 1975.
He later founded the Medellin cartel and set up his first smuggling routes to the US but shortly after that, he was charged with possession of about 39 pounds of cocaine. When bribery proved unsuccessful with the judges in the case, Parblo Escobar reportedly ordered the execution of the two officers in charge, the genesis of his Plata o Plomo (Silver or Lead) negotiating method. This meant that anyone that refuses the silver (bribe) would get the lead (bullet).
2. He is the Richest Criminal in History
With an estimated net worth north of $30 billion as of 1993, no criminal has been able to top Pablo Escobar’s wealth. He was listed by Forbes in 1989 as one of the 227 billionaires in the world. Escobar was so rich that he used to lose over $2 billion per year to rats and other elements because the bulk of his money had to be stored in a warehouse, according to his accountant. The alleged story about him burning $2 million to keep his family warm while they were on the run after he escaped from prison is in fact, not a myth. At the peak of their operations, Escobar’s Medellin cartel used to make up to $70 million daily, smuggling cocaine worth over half a billion into the United States.
Escobar also made money by taking up to 35% of the money made by other drug traffickers in Medellin and neighboring areas as fees for shipping their drugs into the United States.
3. Pablo Escobar had a lot of Extra-Marital Affairs
Escobar engaged in many infidelities which his wife, Maria Henao, was aware of, nevertheless, her place in his life was never questioned. The couple loved each other since they eloped together and got married in March 1976, when she was barely 15 years old. As powerful as he was, his wife was one of the people he respected most and she was very supportive of her husband. She was able to use her influence to get Pablo Escobar into many things except to shun violence. They have two children, Juan Pablo, and Manuela whom he loved dearly.
4. The king of Cocaine Went by Many Names
Apart from the names given to him by his parents, Pablo acquired more in his time including El Pablito (Little Pablo), Don Pablo (Sir Pablo), El Patrón (The Boss), El Mágico (The Magician), El Padrino (The Godfather), El Zar de la Cocaína (The Tsar of Cocaine), El Señor (The Lord) and “Matar a Pablo” (Killing Pablo), but the most common name he went by was King of Cocaine.
5. He was Revered as a Hero Among his People
Despite his many evil deeds which got him labeled as an enemy of his own country and that of the United States government, Pablo Escobar was seen as a good person by the common people of Medellin. He spent a tangible amount of his money on making poor people feel comfortable. He built stadiums, football fields, sponsored the local football team, he pumped a lot of money into housing and several other community projects.
His people loved him so much that oftentimes, they volunteered to be on the lookout for police officers whenever he was around. They tried everything they could to repay Escobar’s generosity including withholding credible information- that could have led to his earlier capture, from the police.
6. He was a Politician
Pablo Escobar’s popularity among his people was established when he was elected as an alternate member of the Columbian congress in 1982. He served his people for two years before he had to step down because a movement sponsored by the Columbian and American government asked that his illegal dealings be investigated. He was also arrested and detained during this period.
7. The Notorious Drug Lord made Colombia the World Murder Capital
Escobar’s rise to become one of the wealthiest people in the world did not come without its disadvantages. He repeatedly had to fight battles both at home and abroad to maintain his dominance with not just rival cartels but also home and foreign authorities. This resulted in the death of many including locals, police officers, judges, politicians, and presidential candidates. In 1991, over 25,100 violent deaths were recorded in Columbia and this increased the following year to 27,100 making Columbia the murder capital of the world. In his time, Pablo Escobar is reported to have killed or ordered the death of over 4000 people, about 600 of whom were police officers.
8. The Colombian Authorities Allowed Escobar to Build his Own Prison and he still Escaped
Following the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, Escobar struck a negotiation with the Columbian government in 1991, that he would turn himself in if they allowed him to build his prison. As funny as it may sound, the Columbian government agreed and that was how the La Catedral prison came to be. The dubbed King of Cocaine built a palatial luxury prison for himself and included everything you would find in a 5-star hotel including a bar, Jacuzzi, football pitch, telephones, telescope, a dollhouse, and a waterfall.
When the government found out that Escobar had not ceased his criminal activities even while in prison, they arranged to transfer him to a less comfortable prison but this information was leaked to him giving the mastermind ample time to plan his escape. Escobar successfully escaped his prison through a backdoor in 1992 before he could be transferred.
9. The King of Cocaine may have Committed Suicide
Pablo Escobar died on December 2, 1993, during a shootout that involved him, his bodyguard and the joint forces of the US Special Forces, trained Columbian task force and the members of a group formed by those who had been aggrieved by Escobar’s actions called Los Pepes. Escobar took some bullets in his leg and torso but the source of the shot that ended his life – through his ear – remains unknown. Escobar’s brothers, Roberto and Fernando stated regarding his death that they believe their brother took his own life as he always said he would shoot himself through the ear if he was ever cornered without a way out. In Escobar’s words, “better a grave in Columbia than jail in America”.
10. His Death was Mourned by Many
Escobar was mourned as a hero after he died especially by the numerous poor people he had helped while he was alive. Over 25,000 people attended his funeral and some people reportedly pray to him as they would a saint.
11. His Life Inspired Books and Music
Escobar has been the subject of many books such as ‘Kings of Cocaine’ by Guy Gugliotta, in 1989, which details the Medellín Cartel’s history and how they operated including the role of Escobar within it. Mark Bowden’s 2001 ‘Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw’ talks about how the Colombian military, United States special forces and intelligence alongside the Los Pepes joined forces to kill Pablo Escobar and scatter his cartel afterward. It is also known that one of Escobar’s mistresses, Virginia Vallejo wrote a book about him in 2007 which was followed by ‘Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar’ published in 2017.
In like passion, there have been numerous songs written about the life of Pablo; a good example is American rapper E-40’s 2013 song ”Pablo”. This song which was even named after Pablo Escobar was an ode to the drug lord’s legacy.
12. Pablo Escobar’s Life also Inspired Films and TV Series
Several films, documentaries, and television shows have been made with Pablo Escobar either as the sole subject or with reference made to his life. Some of such films include Blow in 2001 which was based on George Jung, a former member of Escobar’s Medellin cartel. The aforementioned Vallejo’s book ‘Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar’ was also made into a Spanish movie in 2017 titled Loving Pablo. It is known that the National Geographic made a Television film documentary titled Pablo Escobar: The King of Coke which featured footage from archives and some key people were interviewed.
As for TV series, some that have been made include HBO’s 2007 series Entourage, The Two Escobars released in 2010 about Escobar and a former football player that shared his surname but with no relation to him, Pablo Escobar: El Patrón del Mal (Pablo Escobar, The Boss Of Evil) a series by Caracol TV based on La parábola de Pablo, a book by Alonso Salazar. Also, Netflix’s original series, Narcos depicts the drug lord’s life history, it was released in August 2015 starring Wagner Moura as Escobar.