Who is Pablo Escobar?
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was born on 1 December 1949, in Rionegro, Colombia, and was a drug lord, known for being called “The King of Cocaine” and responsible for 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States during the height of his career. He is possibly the wealthiest criminal in history, and was one of the richest men in the world during his prime.
The Wealth of Pablo Escobar
How rich is Pablo Escobar? As of mid-2018, sources estimate a net worth that is at $56 billion, earned through a very successful criminal career from the early 1970s until his death in 1993. He turned over as much as $22 billion a year, and had an estimated $30 billion in net worth at his demise, equivalent to around $56 billion today.
Is Pablo Escobar Really Dead?
Pablo was initially caught and imprisoned, but he managed to turn the prison La Catedral into his own luxury residence. Once word got out that he was still operating from within the prison he escaped, and continued to elude the electronic surveillance team Search Bloc for 16 months. Eventually, his telephone transmissions were identified, and the Search Bloc discovered that he was hiding in the Medellin middle-class barrio called Los Olivos. In 1993, a shootout between Escobar, his bodyguard and the Colombian National Police ensued. The duo tried to escape by running across the rooftops of adjoining houses but they were shot. Escobar suffered gunshots to the leg and torso, and the shot that killed him through the ear; many still speculate on who shot the final bullet into his ear – it was either done during the gunfight or through an execution, but Escobar’s relatives believe that he likely shot himself, as he stated before that if he was ever cornered without a way out, he would take his own life.
Early Life and Criminal Beginnings
Pablo was born into a family of seven children, and his father was a farmer while his mother was an elementary school teacher. He was raised in Medellin, and started his life of crime when he discovered success by selling counterfeit high school diplomas. He studied at the Universidad Autonoma Latinoamericana of Medellin, but soon left, never completing his studies. He later befriended Oscar Benel Aguirre, who would become his partner in numerous crimes.
The duo sold contraband, fake lottery tickets, and stole cars. He mainly worked as a thief and a bodyguard, later working for a Medellin smuggler named Alvaro Prieto. In 1975, he decided to develop his own cocaine operation, flying out planes to check smuggling routes to the US. He found success while working his operation, but was caught which led to a case against him. He was unsuccessful in bribing the judges, so he ordered the murder of the two arresting officers, leading to the case being dropped.
Becoming the Drug Lord
There were no drug cartels during Escobar’s early days in crime, and so he saw the opportunity to smuggle cocaine which was being refined in Medellin. With the demand for the drug increasing in the US, he organized countless smuggling shipments, later buying most of the land on an island in the Bahamas to help setup a trans-shipment point. At one point, it was estimated that around 70 to 80 tons of cocaine were being shipped to the US every month.
In 1982, he became an elected member of the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia, clearly a useful position, but eventually his notoriety gained international attention, especially due to his drug network – he controlled a large portion of drugs that entered various countries around the world. At the height of his power, his cartel brought in more than $70 million a day. Despite him being labeled an enemy by the government and other countries, he was a hero locally due to his helping the poor in Columbia, establishing numerous structures and infrastructure, creating a Robin Hood image. However, the murder rate in the country increased, partly due to the assassination of numerous police officers, and he was eventually asked by the government to cease all criminal activity and surrender, in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Pablo was survived by his wife Maria Henao and their two children. The family now goes under different names, and fled from Colombia to find a country that would grant them asylum. Despite the many women in Pablo’s life, his wife remained supportive, though she urged him to stop the violence. The family escaped to Mozambique, then to Brazil, before eventually settling in Argentina, where Maria would become a successful real estate entrepreneur. His children on the other hand would continue efforts to help seek forgiveness for their father’s deeds.