Escobar wanted to be Colombia’s president
Pablo Escobar was anything but from a wealthy background. His father was a poor farmer, his mother a simple teacher. However, Pablo had big plans for his future. He became involved in crime in his teens. He made his first money stealing tombstones, which he sandblasted to remove the names of the deceased. He then sold the tombstones to Panamanian smugglers. Escobar was brimming with ambition: he wanted to be a millionaire by the age of 22 and – why not – become president of Colombia.
Even an ambitious criminal like Escobar had to start out as a petty thief. In the beginning, he stole cars, sold smuggled cigarettes and sold fake lottery tickets. He didn’t shy away from kidnapping either: the kidnapping of a company manager in Medellin brought him $100,000 in ransom. He started drug trafficking in the 1970s. Medellin’s local drug lord, Fabio Restrepo, was murdered in 1975. This probably happened at the behest of Escobar. From that moment on, Escobar built a drug empire from Medellin.
80 tons of cocaine per month
Soon, Pablo organized 80% of cocaine smuggling into the United States. He had an eye for quality: the cocaine he trafficked turned out to be of much better quality than the average Colombian cocaine. At its peak, 70 to 80 tons of cocaine a month were smuggled into the United States. Planes were used for the smuggling (Escobar initially flew himself), but also helicopters and even remote-controlled submarines.
$1,000 in rubber bands per week
It is hard to imagine how much money Pablo Escobar made from his cocaine business. During his prime, Escobar made about $60 million a day. He filled his warehouses with banknotes, 10% of which were eaten by rats or affected by water. He also started a fire with $2 million in bills because his daughter was cold. And then this, the cartel spent about $1,000 a week on rubber bands to tie the notes together, that’s how much money came in!
Silver or lead
With Pablo Escobar it was all or nothing. Either he bribed you and cooperated with him, or you refused to cooperate with him and you were killed. Hence his expression ‘plata o plomo’: silver or lead. He figuratively bribed you with silver coins, or you got a lead bullet in your body… The number of murders that Escobar had carried out is not small. It is estimated that Pablo directly or indirectly caused the death of some 8,000 people.
A zoo to relax
What was Escabor supposed to do with so much money? Buy yourself your own zoo, for example. Near the Colombian town of Puerto Triunfo, he bought a piece of land of 20 square kilometers, built his Hacienda Nápoles, built a lake and started his own zoo with exotic animals. All intended as recreation for himself and his family. He also regularly hosted parties to which powerful Colombian politicians and other well-known figures were invited. Of course, drugs were also distributed at these parties – after all, he had no shortage of cocaine…
Another fun fact, thanks to the Escobar Zoo, hippos can now be found in Colombia. All the animals were moved to other zoos, except for the four hippos. In the meantime, there are more than 50 of them and they are starting to pose a real problem for the ecosystem.
The Robin Hood of the Colombians
Escobar may have been one of the richest people on Earth , but he had a heart for the poor and homeless (or at least pretended to). He had houses built for the poor in Medellin. He spent millions on schools, parks, football stadiums, hospitals and churches in his country. To the Colombian poor, he was not a criminal, but a sort of Robin Hood. With the support of the poor, he made it quite far in politics. In 1982 he was elected a Member of Parliament. This did not last long, however: his opponents ensured that his political career was over less than a year later.
The originator of terrible attacks
Pablo Escobar wanted to get rid of Colombian presidential candidate Cesar Gaviria. That is why he had a bomb placed on flight 203 of the Colombian airline Avianca. Fortunately Cesar Gaviria was not on board this plane, but 110 other passengers died as a result of the bombing. Gaviria was nevertheless elected president of Colombia. In 1993, a bomb exploded in the basement of the World Trade Center in New York. Escobar was also suspected of that bombing, but his involvement has never been proved.
A luxury cell for a serious criminal
The Gaviria government decided to take measures against the drug trade and Escobar’s crimes. In exchange for a reduced sentence and good treatment, he surrendered himself and was imprisoned in a very luxurious private prison “La Catedral”. It didn’t make Escobar repent – quite the contrary. Pablo quietly went on to run his drug cartel from his comfortable prison. The authorities therefore wanted to transfer him to another prison, but Escobar fled before that.
The Death of Pablo Escobar
In 1992 there was a lot of search for the hiding Escobar. Two groups were eagerly looking for him: a Colombian commando specially trained by the United States, and relatives of people he had killed. On December 2, 1993, the time had come: the commandos discovered Escobar’s hideout. Pablo fled, but was fired upon and killed. Some claim that he managed to escape to the roof of his hideout and shot a bullet through his head there himself