Pablo Escobar, the ruthless Colombian drug lord who at one time was the seventh-richest man in the world, now has a Netflix series. Narcos chronicles the life of Pablo Escobar as seen from the perspective of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Steve Murphy.
According to his biography at About.com, Pablo Escobar was born to a lower-middle class family on December 1, 1949 and in grew up in Medellin, Colombia. Throughout his early life, he often talked about how he would someday be the President of Colombia.
Yet, instead of gaining authority through politics, Pablo became a criminal, first by stealing tombstones, then stealing cars, and eventually found the path to power with the illegal drug trade. Instead of “President,” he went on to become “The King of Cocaine.”
In the late 1970s to the early 1980s, Pablo Escobar created and ruled the Medellin Cartel. At the time, this cartel controlled the cocaine trade and made billions of dollars unlawfully exporting it to the U.S. through Miami. While the U.S. was busy fighting the spread of marijuana, Pablo’s organization was producing 10,000 kilos of cocaine a week.
In the mid-1980s, Pablo Escobar was at the height of his power. Not only did he control one of the most powerful crime organizations in history, he had an army of soldiers, several mansions, a personal airstrip, and even a private zoo. His wealth at the time was estimated to be approximately $24 billion.
Later, his power began a downslide when the U.S. government tried to extradite him to face drug charges. Escobar used money, influence, and a campaign of terror to prevent this extradition. Ultimately a deal was struck between Escobar and the Colombian government.
To prevent being sent to the U.S., Escobar turned himself in exchange for a five-year prison sentence. A prison sentence to be served in Pablo’s own private run prison known as La Catedral.
While in La Catedral, Pablo continued to run his empire. When he ordered the execution of some of his subordinates, the Colombian government had had enough and attempted to transfer him to a regular prison.
Fearing extradition, Pablo Escobar escaped and went on the run.
Colombian forces caught up with him in a middle class section of Medellin on December 2, 1993. When the Colombian National Police attempted to bring him in, a gunfight ensued. Escobar was ultimately shot and killed when he tried to escape.
Despite his crimes, Pablo Escobar remains in the hearts and minds of the people of Medellin. Even more than 20 years since his death, he remains a local folk hero and Robin Hood of sorts. He built hospitals, schools, parks, churches, and housing for even the poorest of Medellin’s citizens. However, many still despise him for the drug war he unleashed between the Cartel, local police, and the U.S. during his reign.
Today, many tourists flock to the town of Medellin looking to somehow touch or be a part of Pablo Escobar’s life. There are even guided tours of various Escobar landmarks as well as souvenirs and T-shirts available in the gift shops.
Pablo Escobar, who once supplied 80 percent of America’s cocaine is alive in countless books, documentaries, movies, and now on Netflix.
Set in the 1980s and shot almost entirely in Colombia, the Netflix series Narcos set within Pablo Escobar’s world does its best to tell the story as true-to-life as possible. It uses archival news footage, real Pablo Escobar mugshots, and actual buildings used during Pablo’s life.
To play the part of Pablo Escobar, Netflix tapped the shoulder of Brazilian actor Wagner Moura. According to Yahoo! News, Moura was at first hesitant to play Escobar, but eventually submerged himself completely into the part. To prepare for the role, he traveled to Medellin so he could study Spanish and the local culture, as well as gaining 45 pounds, growing a mustache, and changing his hairstyle to look more like Pablo.
The six months spent studying for the part really paid off. Being applauded by reviewers for his spot-on accurate portrayal of Escobar, Moura said he wanted to depict every aspect of Escobar’s complex nature.
Moura was recently asked about his interpretation of Escobar’s iconic character.
“He loved his family. He was loved — he’s still loved by a lot of people in Medellin. And he’s still one of the most terrible killers in modern history.”
There are 10 completed episodes of Narcos and each are currently streaming to all Netflix subscribers.