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Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria (December 1, 1949 - December 2, 1993) was a Colombian drug lord. Escobar gained world infamy from the drug trade and in 1989 Forbes magazine listed him as the seventh richest man in the world.

Early years

Escobar studied political science at the Universidad de Antioquiamarker, but he was forced to drop out when he couldn't afford to pay the necessary fees. According to his brother Roberto Escobar's book, "the Accountant's Story", before entering the cocaine trade, Escobar ran a business selling and reusing old tombstones from long forgotten graves. He brought the tombstones to his uncle's shop to be cleaned and used again. Escobar later discovered that he could make a lot more money smuggling cocaine, and developed brilliant new, more effective methods. He slowly built a large organization through buying people's loyalty, and fear.

Rise To Power

In 1982, Escobar was elected as a deputy/alternate representative to the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia's Congress, as part of the Colombian Liberal Party.

During the 1980s, Escobar became known internationally as his drug network gained notoriety; the Medellín Cartel controlled a large portion of the drugs that entered into the United States, Mexicomarker, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republicmarker with cocaine brought mostly from Perumarker and Boliviamarker, as Colombian coca was initially of substandard quality. Escobar's product reached many other nations, mostly around the Americas, although it is said that his network reached as far as Asia.

Escobar bribed countless government officials, judges and other politicians. He often personally executed uncooperative subordinates and routinely had anyone else he viewed as a threat murdered. This resulted in the deaths of hundreds of individuals, including civilians, policemen and state officials. Corruption and intimidation characterized Escobar's dealings with the Colombian system. He had an effective, inescapable policy in dealing with law enforcement and the government, referred to as "plata o plomo," (literally silver or lead, colloquially money or bullets). Escobar was responsible for the murder of Colombian presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, one of three assassinated candidates who were all competing in the same election, as well as the bombing of Avianca Flight 203 and the DAS Building bombing in Bogotámarker in 1989. The Cartel de Medellín was also involved in a deadly drug war with its primary rival, the Cartel De Cali, for most of its existence. It is sometimes alleged that Escobar backed the 1985 storming of the Colombian Supreme Court by left-wing guerrillas from the 19th of April Movement, also known as M-19, which resulted in the murder of half the judges on the court. Some of these claims were included in a late 2006 report by a Truth Commission of three judges of the current Supreme Court. One of those who discusses the attack is "Popeye", a former Escobar hitman. At the time of the siege, the Supreme Court was studying the constitutionality of Colombia's extradition treaty with the U.S. Most independent experts and former M-19 leaders that did not participate in the events have denied that the drug lord was behind the assault on the Supreme Court.

Height of power

At the height of his empire's power, Forbes magazine estimated Escobar to be the seventh-richest man in the world with a personal wealth of close to $25 billion, while his Medellín cartel controlled 80% of the global cocaine market.

While seen as an enemy of the United States and Colombian governments, Escobar was a hero to many in Medellín (especially the poor people); he was a natural at public relations and he worked to create goodwill among the poor people of Colombia. A lifelong sports fan, he was credited with building football fields and multi-sports courts, sponsoring little league football teams.

Pablo Escobar was also responsible for the construction of many churches in Medellín, which gained him popularity inside the local Roman Catholic Church. He worked hard to cultivate his "Robin Hood" image, and frequently distributed money to the poor through housing projects and other civic activities, which gained him notable popularity among the poor. The population of Medellín often helped Escobar by serving as lookouts, hiding information from the authorities, or doing whatever else they could do to protect him.His brother was reported saying that Pablo was so violently committed to loyalty, that he once threatened him at gun point questioning him about a minor misunderstanding. His brother said his ability to befriend the dangerous and scare the powerful, is what made him as powerful as he was.

At the height of his power, drug traffickers from Medellín and other areas were handing over between 20 and 35% of their Colombian cocaine-related profits to Escobar.

Escobar’s fight caused Colombia to quickly become the world’s murder capital with 7,081 murders in 1991 alone. This increased murder rate was fueled by Escobar giving money to poor youths as a reward for killing police officers- over 600 of whom were killed.

La Catedral prison

After the assassination of Luis Carlos Galán, a presidential candidate, the administration of César Gaviria moved against Escobar and the drug cartels. Eventually, the government negotiated with Escobar, convincing him to surrender and cease all criminal activity in exchange for a reduced sentence and preferential treatment during his captivity.

After declaring an end to a series of previous violent or terrorist acts meant to pressure authorities and public opinion, Escobar turned himself in. He was confined in what became his own luxurious private prison, La Catedral. Before Escobar gave himself up, the extradition of Colombian citizens had been prohibited by the newly approved Colombian Constitution of 1991. That was controversial, as it was suspected that Escobar or other drug lords had influenced members of the Constituent Assembly.

Accounts of Escobar's continued criminal activities began to surface in the media. Escobar brought the Moncada and Galeano brothers to La Catedral and murdered them, accusing them of stealing from the cartel. When the government found out that Escobar was continuing his criminal activities within La Catedral, it attempted to move Escobar to another jail on July 22, 1992. Escobar escaped, fearing that he could be extradited to the United States.

Search Bloc and Los Pepes

In 1992 United States Delta Forcemarker operators (and later Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six) joined the all-out manhunt for Escobar. They trained and advised a special Colombian police task force, known as the Search Bloc, which had been created to locate Escobar. Later, as the conflict between Escobar and United States and Colombian governments dragged on and the numbers of his enemies grew, a vigilante group known as Los Pepes (Los Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar - People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar also known as "el cartel del norte del valle" that had "chupeta" and varela as part of this cartel), financed by the Cali Cartel and Carlos Casta√Īo (among others), carried out a bloody campaign fueled by thirst for vengeance in which more than 300 of Escobar's associates and relatives were slain and large amounts of his cartel's property were destroyed.

Rumors abounded that members of the Search Bloc, and also of Colombian and the United States intelligence agencies, in their efforts to find and punish Escobar, either colluded with Los Pepes or moonlighted as both Search Bloc and Los Pepes simultaneously. This coordination was allegedly conducted mainly through the sharing of intelligence in order to allow Los Pepes to bring down Escobar and his few remaining allies, but there are reports that some individual Search Bloc members directly participated in missions of the Los Pepes death squads. One of the leaders of Los Pepes was Diego Murillo Bejarano (also known as "Don Berna"), a former Medellín Cartel associate who became a drug kingpin and eventually emerged as a leader of one of the most powerful factions within the AUC.

Death and afterward

The war against Escobar ended on December 2, 1993, as he tried to elude the Search Bloc one more time. Using radio triangulation technology provided as part of the United States efforts, a Colombian electronic surveillance team found him hiding in a middle-class barrio in Medellín.

The shootout between Escobar and the Search Bloc personnel ensued after the house was located. How Escobar was killed during the confrontation has been debated but it is known that he was cornered on the rooftops of Medell√≠n and, after a prolonged gunfight, suffered gunshots to the leg, torso, and the fatal one in his ear. It has never been proven who actually fired the final shot into Escobar's head, whether this shot was made during the gunfight or as part of possible execution, and there is wide speculation about the subject. One very popular theory is that Hugo Aguilar shot Escobar with just one shot with his 9 mm pistol. His two brothers, Roberto Escobar and Fernando Sanchez Arellano, believe that he shot himself through the ears: "He committed suicide, he did not get killed. During all the years they went after him, he would say to me every day that if he was really cornered without a way out, he would shoot himself through the ears." During the autopsy however, there was no stippling pattern found around the ear, which proved that the shot which killed Pablo Escobar was fired from more than arm's length away. Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down, suggest he may have been killed by a Delta Forcemarker Sniper.

After Escobar's death and the fragmentation of the Medellín Cartel the cocaine market soon became dominated by the rival Cali Cartel, until the mid-1990s when its leaders, too, were either killed or captured by the government.

The Robin Hood image that he had cultivated continued to have lasting influence in Medellín. Many there, especially many of the city's poor that had been aided by him while he was alive, lamented his death.


On 28 October 2006, Escobar's body was exhumed by request of his nephew Nicol√°s Escobar, two days after the death of mother Hermilda Gaviria (who opposed exhumation) to verify that the body in the tomb was in fact that of Escobar and also to collect DNA for a paternity test claim. According to the report by the El Tiempo newspaper, Escobar's ex-wife Maria Victoria was present recording the exhumation with a video camera. Some of the family members believe that Escobar could have committed suicide.

Virginia Vallejo's version

On July 4, 2006, Virginia Vallejo, the television anchorwoman who was romantically involved with Escobar from 1983 to 1987, offered her testimony in the trial against former senator Alberto Santofimio, accused of conspiracy in the 1989 assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan, to the Colombian Attorney General Mario Iguaran. Mr. Iguaran acknowledged that, although Vallejo contacted his office on the 4th, the judge had decided to close the trial on the 9th, several weeks before the prospective closing date and, in (Iguaran's) opinion, ‚Äútoo soon‚ÄĚ.

On July 16, 2006, Vallejo was taken to the United States in a special flight of the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to the American Embassy in Bogot√°, this was done for "safety and security reasons." On July 24, 2006, a video in which Vallejo accused Santofimio of instigating Escobar to eliminate senator Galan in her presence was aired on Colombian television. In 2007, Vallejo published her book Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar, where she describes her stormy relationship with the drug lord, the years of the cocaine boom, Escobar's links to Caribbean dictators and presidents, paramilitaries and rebels, his fight against extradition, the Palace of Justice siege, the assassinations of Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara and presidential candidates Luis Carlos Galan, among others, his feud with the Cali Cartel and the era of narco-terrorism that began after the couple's separation in 1987.

In 2008, Vallejo was asked to testify in the reopened case of the 1985 Palace of Justice siege and she confirmed that Escobar had financed the coup. In 2009, she testified in Luis Carlos Galan's assassination case, also reopened.

Vallejo also claimed that several politicians, including Colombian presidents Alfonso Lopez Michelsen, Ernesto Samper and Alvaro Uribe, were involved with the drug cartels. Uribe denied Vallejo's allegations , but, in a radio interview with journalist Daniel Coronell, acknowledged that, ‚Äúdue to his political visibility, he had seen Pablo Escobar many times, but from a distance‚ÄĚ.

Personal life

In March 1976 at the age of 26, Escobar married Maria Victoria when she was 15 years old. Together they had two children: Juan Pablo and Manuela. Escobar was known to have affairs through out his life, with a penchant for girls aged between 14-16 years old who would often visit his ranches and even the secure prison 'La Catedral'. Pablo Escobar created and lived in a luxurious estate called Hacienda Napoles (Spanish for Naples Ranch) and had planned to construct a Greek-style citadel near it. Construction of the citadel was started but was never finished. The ranch, the zoo and the citadel were expropriated by the government and given to low-income families in the 1990s under a law called extinción de dominio (domain extinction). The property has been converted to a theme park.[24693]


Pablo Escobar's widow and her two children have lived somewhere in Argentina since 1995. Her name was Maria Isabel Santos Caballero which was changed to Gloria Rameriz Garcia when she left Colombia. Her son Gustavo Escobar, has also changed his name to Gustavo Garcia. ,he only had one son and a daughter not 2 sons, Escobar changed his name to Sebastian Marroquin. Sebastian studied industrial design and architecture. He is also survived by his godson, Daniel Ray Rodriguez Gacha, the son of Jose Rodriguez Gacha. In August 2008, the family of slain presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán revealed that Marroquín had sent them a letter in which he apologized for his father's involvement in the 1989 murder. It was delivered by filmmaker Nicolas Entel.

The rest of Escobar's family is thought to have migrated to Venezuela, including his aunt Leticia Escobar and her 2 daughters, one of which now lives in Texas. Some have fled to the United States. Homero Garfias, Pablo's first cousin, once resided in Carpentersville.

In popular culture

Escobar is depicted in the 2001 drama film Blow in which Escobar, played by Cliff Curtis, becomes a business contact of the main character George Jung. The movie highlights George Jung's role in smuggling Escobar's cocaine into the U.S and selling it for enormous profit.

Photographer James Mollison's book The Memory of Pablo Escobar tells Pablo's story with over 350 photographs and documents. The journalist Rainbow Nelson conducted over 100 interviews with family members, Medellin Cartel associates, Colombian police & judges, and survivors of Escobar's killing sprees.

Escobar is depicted in the 2006 documentary film Cocaine Cowboys.

In the HBO television series Entourage, actor Vincent Chase (played by Adrian Grenier) plays Escobar in a fictional film entitled Medellin.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez' book, News of a Kidnapping, details the series of abductions that Escobar masterminded to pressure the then Colombian government into guaranteeing him non-extradition if he turned himself in.

Escobar is also the subject of an episode in a documentary series called Situation Critical, in production as of September 2007.

In the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City the airport is named after him ("Escobar International").

Colombian writer Laura Restrepo uses Escobar as a character to move part of the plot in Delirio.

Rapper Nas called himself Nas Escobar in honour of the man. Many other rappers also admire Escobar.

Argentine rock and roll band "Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota" made a song about Escobar's death called "Me matan Lim√≥n" ("They kill me Lim√≥n") which is based upon the last days of the drug lord and his only loyal bodyguard √Ālvaro de Jes√ļs Agudelo known as "El Lim√≥n" (The Lemon), who was killed at the same assault that Escobar, giving his life to protect him.

Popular depiction

Recent interest in Pablo Escobar is credited to the fictional film, Medellín, from the HBO series Entourage. Producer Oliver Stone even said "This is a great project about a fascinating man who took on the system. I think I have to thank, Scarface, and maybe even Ari Gold."

Two major feature films on the Colombian drug lord, Escobar and Killing Pablo, were announced in 2007, around the same time. Escobar has been delayed due to Stone's involvement with the George W. Bush biopic W. The date of Escobar’s release is still unconfirmed.

Killing Pablo, in development for several years and directed by Joe Carnahan, is based on Mark Bowden‚Äôs book Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw. The plot claims to tell the true story of how the Colombian gangster Pablo Escobar was killed and his Medell√≠nmarker cocaine cartel dismantled by US special forces and intelligence, the Colombian military, and a vigilante gang controlled by the Cali cartel. The cast was reported to include Christian Bale as Major Steve Jacoby and Venezuelan actor √Čdgar Ram√≠rez as Escobar. In December 2008, Bob Yari, producer of Killing Pablo, filed for bankruptcy.

See also


  1. Pablo Escobar (1949 - 1993)
  2. "Así conocí a Pablo Escobar". Revista Semana. May 12, 2007.
  3. El Pais - Cali Colombia nacional ‚ÄúPablo Escobar financi√≥ la toma del Palacio de Justicia‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúEscobar financi√≥ toma del Palacio de Justicia‚ÄĚ
  4. Mark: The Hunt For The World's Greatest Outlaw." Atlantic Monthly Press, New York 2001
  5. Zero Hour: Killing of the Cocaine King (documentary)
  6. Kenneth Roberts
  8. EL TIEMPO - Pablo Escobar's body exhumed
  9. Video of Escobar's exhumation
  10. Colombian Attorney General on Virginia Vallejo’s offer to testify against Santofimio
  11. DEA special flight takes Escobar’s former lover to Miami
  12. Pablo Escobar's Ex-Lover Flees Colombia
  13. Virginia Vallejo, Ahora Testigo En Caso Del Palacio
  14. Galan Slaying a ‚ÄúState Crime,‚ÄĚ Colombian Prosecutors say
  15. Nexos Uribe y Pablo Escobar
  16. Michael Fleming (October 8, 2007) Stone to produce another 'Escobar' Variety. Accessed November 28, 2007.
  17. Sparring Partners Tribeca Film Festival. Accessed November 28, 2007
  18. No Bardem for KILLING PABLO Obsessed With Film. Accessed August 14, 2008
  19. What is actor Christian Bale doing next? Accessed January 17, 2009.
  20. Dave McNary (October 1, 2007) Yari fast-tracking Escobar biopic Variety. Accessed November 29, 2007.
  21. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez to Play PABLO ESCOBAR
  22. Devin Faraci (August 14, 2008) CARNAHAN IS GOING TO BE KILLING A NEW PABLO, AND WE KNOW WHO IT IS []. Accessed August 14, 2008.
  23. Escobar's producer files for bankruptcy

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