Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was a Colombian drug load and narcoterrorist who was the founder and sole leader of the Medellín Cartel.
Cause of death: Gunshot wound to the head
Died: 2 December 1993 (aged 44); Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia.
Born: 1 December 1949, Rionegro, Colombia
Spouse: Maria Victoria Henao (m. 1976–1993)
Children: Manuela Escobar, Sebastián Marroquín
Siblings: Roberto Escobar, Luis Fernando Escobar, Alba Marina Escobar
• Don Pablo (Sir Pablo)
• El Padrino (The Godfather)
• El Patrón (The Boss)
• Matar Pablo (Killing Pablo)
• The King of Cocaine
• The King of Crack
Illegal drug trade, assassinations, bombing, bribery, racketeering, murder
Five years’ imprisonment
Pablo Escobar signature.
Born in Rionegro and raised in Medellín, Escobar studied briefly at Universidad Autónoma Latinoamericana of Medellín, but left without graduating; he instead began engaging in criminal activity, selling illegal cigarettes and fake lottery tickets, as well as participating in motor vehicle theft. In the early 1970s, he began to work for various drug smugglers, often kidnapping and holding people for ransom.
In 1976, Escobar founded the Medellín Cartel, which distributed powder cocaine, and established the first smuggling routes into the United States. Escobar’s infiltration into the U.S. created exponential demand for cocaine and by the 1980s it was estimated Escobar led monthly shipments of 70 to 80 tons of cocaine into the country from Colombia. As a result, he quickly became one of the richest people in the world, but constantly battled rival cartels domestically and abroad, leading to massacres and the murders of police officers, judges, locals, and prominent politicians, making Colombia the murder capital of the world.
In the 1982 Colombian parliamentary election, Escobar was elected as an alternate member of the Chamber of Representatives as part of the Liberal Alternative movement. Through this, he was responsible for community projects such as the construction of houses and football fields, which gained him popularity among the locals of the towns that he frequented. However, Escobar was vilified by the Colombian and U.S. governments, who routinely stifled his political ambitions and pushed for his arrest, with Escobar widely believed to have orchestrated the DAS Building and Avianca Flight 203 bombings in retaliation.
In 1991, Escobar surrendered to authorities, and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on a host of charges, but struck a deal of no extradition with Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, with the ability of being housed in his own, self-built prison, La Catedral. In 1992, Escobar escaped and went into hiding when authorities attempted to move him to a more standard holding facility, leading to a nation-wide manhunt. As a result, the Medellín Cartel crumbled, and in 1993, Escobar was killed in his hometown by Colombian National Police, a day after his 44th birthday.
Escobar’s legacy remains controversial; while many denounce the heinous nature of his crimes, he was seen as a “Robin Hood-like” figure for many in Colombia, as he provided many amenities to the poor. His killing was mourned and his funeral attended by over 25,000 people. Additionally, his private estate, Hacienda Nápoles, has been transformed into a theme park. His life has also served as inspiration for or has been dramatized widely in film, television, and in music.
How many deaths was Pablo Escobar responsible for?
Escobar was responsible for killing about 4,000 people, including an estimated 200 judges and 1,000 police, journalists, and government officials. In the 1980s, Escobar’s Medellin cartel was responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine that was sent to the United States.
Pablo Escobar facts reveal history’s most feared drug lord.
If you haven’t yet seen the Netflix original series Narcos, stop what you’re doing and pull out your laptop right now. Narcos stars Wagner Moura, Maurice Compote, and Boyd Holbrook, and details the rise of Pablo Escobar, the devastating Colombian kingpin who ruled the world’s most complex and far-reaching drug trade — and killed thousands in the process.
Pablo Escobar (left), next to an image of Wagner Moura, who plays Escobar on the show Narcos.
Escobar eclipses just about every drug kingpin in history. He started from nothing and in as little as a couple of decades, became one of the most powerful men in the world. Along the way, he did some truly staggering things.
The city of Medellín, where Escobar grew up and began his criminal career.
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was born on 1 December 1949, in Rionegro, in the Antioquia Department of Colombia. He was the third of seven children of the farmer Abel de Jesús Dari Escobar Echeverri (1910–2001), with his wife Hermilda de Los Dolores Gaviria Berrío (d. 2006), an elementary school teacher.
Raised in the nearby city of Medellín, Escobar is thought to have begun his criminal career as a teenager, allegedly stealing gravestones and sanding them down for resale to local smugglers. His brother, Roberto Escobar, denies this, instead claiming that the gravestones came from cemetery owners whose clients had stopped paying for site care and that he had a relative who had a monuments business.[unreliable source?] Escobar’s son, Sebastián Marroquín, claims his father’s foray into crime began with a successful practice of selling counterfeit high school diplomas, generally counterfeiting those awarded by the Universidad Autónoma Latinoamericana of Medellín. Escobar studied at the university for a short period, but left without obtaining a degree.
Escobar eventually became involved in many criminal activities with Oscar Benel Aguirre, with the duo running petty street scams, selling contraband cigarettes, fake lottery tickets, and stealing cars.[self-published source?] In the early 1970s, prior to entering the drug trade, Escobar acted as a thief and bodyguard, allegedly earning US$100,000 by kidnapping and holding a Medellín executive for ransom. Escobar began working for Alvaro Prieto, a contraband smuggler who operated around Medellín, aiming to fulfill a childhood ambition to have COL $1 million by the time he was 22. He is known to have had a bank deposit of COL 100 million (more than US$3 million), when he turned 26.
Family and relationships
In March 1976, the 26-year-old Escobar married María Victoria Henao, who was 15. The relationship was discouraged by the Henao family, who considered Escobar socially inferior; the pair eloped. They had two children: Juan Pablo (now Sebastián Marroquín) and Manuela.
In 2007, the journalist Virginia Vallejo published her memoir Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar (Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar), in which she describes her romantic relationship with Escobar and the links of her lover with several presidents, Caribbean dictators, and high-profile politicians. Her book inspired the movie Loving Pablo (2017).
A drug distributor, Griselda Blanco, is also reported to have conducted a clandestine, but passionate, relationship with Escobar; several items in her diary link him with the nicknames “Coque de Mi Rey” (My Coke King) and “Polla Blanca” (White Cock).
After becoming wealthy, Escobar created or bought numerous residences and safe houses, with the Hacienda Nápoles gaining significant notoriety. The luxury house contained a colonial house, a sculpture park, and a complete zoo with animals from various continents, including elephants, exotic birds, giraffes, and hippopotamuses. Escobar had also planned to construct a Greek-style citadel near it, and though construction of the citadel was started, it was never finished.
Escobar also owned a home in the US under his own name: a 6,500 square foot (604 m2), pink, waterfront mansion situated at 5860 North Bay Road in Miami Beach, Florida. The four-bedroom estate, built in 1948 on Biscayne Bay, was seized by the US federal government in the 1980s. Later, the dilapidated property was owned by Christian de Berdouare, proprietor of the Chicken Kitchen fast-food chain, who had bought it in 2014. De Berdouare would later hire a documentary film crew and professional treasure hunters to search the edifice before and after demolition, for anything related to Escobar or his cartel. They would find unusual holes in floors and walls, as well as a safe that was stolen from its hole in the marble flooring before it could be properly examined.
Escobar also owned a huge Caribbean getaway on Isla Grande, the largest of the cluster of the 27 coral cluster islands comprising Islas del Rosario, located about 35 km (22 mi) from Cartagena. The compound, now half-demolished and overtaken by vegetation and wild animals, featured a mansion, apartments, courtyards, a large swimming pool, a helicopter landing pad, reinforced windows, tiled floors, and a large but unfinished building to the side of the mansion.
Members of Search Bloc celebrate over Escobar’s body on 2 December 1993. His death ended a 16-month search effort, costing hundreds of millions of dollars.
The tomb of Pablo Escobar and family in the Monte Sacro Cemetery, Itagüí
Sixteen months after his escape from La Catedral, Pablo Escobar died in a shootout on 2 December 1993, amid another of his attempts to elude the Search Bloc. A Colombian electronic surveillance team, led by Brigadier Hugo Martínez, used radio trilateration technology to track his cell phone transmissions and found him hiding in Los Olivos, a middle-class barrio in Medellín. The search bloc of 8 men raided the house by blowing the door open and pursuing him as he ran to the roof and tried to escape them, as well as engaging in a firefight with Escobar and his bodyguard, Álvaro de Jesús Agudelo (alias “El Limón”) which 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 by Colombian National Police. Escobar suffered gunshots to the leg and torso, and a fatal gunshot through the ear.
It has never been proven who actually fired the final shot into his ear, nor has it been determined whether this shot was made during the gunfight or as part of a possible execution, with wide speculation remaining regarding the subject. Some of Escobar’s relatives believe that he committed suicide. His two brothers, Roberto Escobar and Fernando Sánchez Arellano, believe that he shot himself through the ear. In a statement regarding the topic, the duo stated that Pablo “had 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 ear’.”