Pablo Escobar 1949-1993
Sometimes I am God, if I say a man dies, he dies that same day.
Life is full of surprises, some good, some not so good.
Everyone has a price, the important thing is to find out what it is.
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was born on December 1, 1949, in Rionegro, in the Antioquia Department of Colombia. He was the third of seven children to Abel de Jesús Dari Escobar, a farmer, and Hermilda Gaviria, 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.
He studied briefly at Universidad Autónoma Latinoamericana of Medellin but left without a degree; he began to engage in criminal activity that involved selling contraband cigarettes and fake lottery tickets, and he participated in motor vehicle theft. In the 1970s, he began to work for various contraband smugglers, often kidnapping and holding people for ransom before beginning to distribute powder cocaine himself, as well as establishing the first smuggling routes into the United States in 1975. His infiltration to the drug market of the U.S. expanded exponentially due to the rising demand for cocaine and, by the 1980s, it was estimated that 70 to 80 tons of cocaine were being shipped from Colombia to the U.S. on a monthly basis. His drug network was commonly known as the Medellín Cartel, which often competed with rival cartels domestically and abroad, resulting in massacres and the murders of police officers, judges, locals, and prominent politicians.
During the height of its operations, the Medellín Cartel brought in more than US $70 million per day (roughly $22 billion in a year). Smuggling 15 tons of cocaine per day, worth more than half a billion dollars, into the United States, the cartel spent over US $1000 per week purchasing rubber bands to wrap the stacks of cash, storing most of it in their warehouses. Ten percent of the cash had to be written off per year because of "spoilage", due to rats creeping in and nibbling on the bills they could reach.
By the early 1990s this made him one of the richest men in the world at his prime.
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, as he was the one who shipped cocaine successfully to the United States.
The Colombian cartels' continuing struggles to maintain supremacy resulted in Colombia quickly becoming the world's murder capital with 25,100 violent deaths in 1991 and 27,100 in 1992. This increased murder rate was fueled by Escobar's giving money to his hitmen as a reward for killing police officers, over 600 of whom died as a result.
In 1982, Escobar was elected as an alternate member of the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia as part of the Colombian Liberal Party. Through this, he was responsible for the construction of many hospitals, schools, and churches in western Colombia, which gained him popularity inside the local Roman Catholic Church as well as with the locals of the towns that he frequented. However, Colombia became the murder capital of the world, and Escobar was vilified by the Colombian and American governments.
In 1993, Escobar was shot and killed in his hometown by Colombian National Police, one day after his 44th birthday. Soon after Escobar's death and the subsequent fragmentation of the Medellín Cartel, the cocaine market became dominated by the rival Cali Cartel until the mid-1990s when its leaders were either killed or captured by the Colombian government. The Robin Hood image that Escobar had cultivated maintained a lasting influence in Medellín. Many there, especially many of the city's poor whom Escobar had aided while he was alive, mourned his death, with over 25,000 people present for his funeral.