Thursday, November 30, 2017

Remembering Pablo Escobar, the Narcos King

Colombia's most feared drug lord, Pablo Escobar died today 24 years ago. He was 44. Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria (December 1, 1949 – December 2, 1993) was a Colombian drug lord and Medellín cartel leader. One of the wealthiest men in the world at the height of his power, the Medellín drug cartel was smuggling 15 tons of cocaine a day, worth more than half a billion dollars, into the United States.
In the early 1970s Escobar was a thief and bodyguard. He made a quick $100,000 from the kidnapping and ransoming a Medellín executive before entering the drug trade with Alvaro Prieto.

In 1975, Escobar started developing his own cocaine operation. He even flew a plane himself, mainly between Colombia and Panama, to smuggle a load into the United States. When he later bought 15 new and bigger airplanes (including a Learjet) and 6 helicopters, he decommissioned the plane and hung it above the gate to his ranch.

Pablo Escobar's palace off the coast of Cartagena on La Isla

Vacation house in Guatape

Colombia quickly became the world’s murder capital.
Corruption and intimidation characterized Escobar's operations. His policy in dealing with law enforcement and the government was referred to as "plata o plomo," (literally silver or lead, colloquially [accept] money or [face] bullets).

Escobar was responsible for the deaths of about 4,000 people, including three Colombian presidential candidates, an attorney general, an estimated 200 judges and 1,000 police. In 1989, he bombed a Colombian plane and Bogota's DAS building, killing 159 people and injuring 1,000 others.

In 1989, Forbes estimated Escobar to be the seventh-richest man in the world with a personal wealth of close to US$25 billion while his Medellín cartel controlled 80% of the global cocaine market. In 1992 United States from Delta Force, Navy SEALs and Centra Spike joined an all-out manhunt for Escobar. They trained and advised a special Colombian police task force, known as the Search Bloc.

The war against Escobar ended on December 2, 1993. Using radio triangulation technology provided by the United States, a Colombian electronic surveillance team found him hiding in a middle-class barrio in Medellín.

A firefight with Escobar and his bodyguard ensued. The two fugitives attempted to escape by running across the roofs of adjoining houses to reach a back street, but both were shot and killed.
Last year Pablo Escobar’s once-opulent Colombian vacation home was demolished, 22 years after the drug lord’s death. The 20-room mansion, complete with a private runway for Escobar’s planes, was one of the main tourist draws at a theme park that now covers much of the drug dealer’s former estate of Hacienda Napoles.

Theme park managers demolished the semi-ruined mansion before it collapsed.
A herd of 50 hippos, the offspring of four animals bought in the 1980s for Escobar’s personal zoo, still roam the area. There’s also a former bullring.