Pablo Escobar is said to be the richest, most powerful drug lord ever to have existed. Born in 1949, he was from the 70s to early 90s the biggest cocaine trafficker to America. A member of the Medellin cartel, he and his accomplices were able to bring in ton quantities of cocaine into the United States each week, consequently monopolizing the market.
The money coming out of America to Colombia as a result was said to have been so much that it became a serious concern for the American government. Just to get a sense of the magnitude, it is said that at the peak of his career, Pablo Escobar was able to make as much as $420 million a week, and this was excluding the rest of the Medellin cartel members. According to Arenas, one of the pilots working for the Medellin cartel and specifically for Carlos Lehder, who spoke to PBS about the drug trafficking business, the heat was turned on mainly because of the money going out.
The following was his actual statement.
“Question: Do you recount a call where Pablo or Carlos or the Ochoas were saying something about the Americans–extradition, or their policy of the drug war?
“Arenas: One concept was expressed by Carlos [Lehder] and Pablo, asking, ‘Who is using that cocaine? We are not using that cocaine. It is the States.’… And the alcohol thing and Prohibition and all of that stuff for 12 years… They said that they could live with the entire Mafia, because the Mafia invests the money back into the United States again. That was okay. But when we, Colombians, part of a Third World, we that are nobodies in this world are taking millions and millions and millions out of the United States, that’s when the United States started thinking about the war on drugs. They were okay until the money started getting out…”
Moreover, drugs brought into the United States by the Medellin cartel were causing levels of violence never before witnessed in America. It has been reported that the Medellin cartels sent scores of hitmen to America to take out rival targets, and by the mid 80s, it was the main cocaine distributor.
The attention on members of the Medellin cartel led to them being included in an extradition list to America, something that bothered Pablo Escobar so much that he openly declared war on the Colombian government to force it to cancel a clause related to that. With so much money at his disposal and at the time considered to be one of the richest men in the world, he used guerrilla groups and hitmen to wage war against key figures in the government and judiciary.
That said, it was the establishment of the Search Bloc, a unit created by the then president of Colombia, President Virgilio Barco, to hunt him down that turned the tables, forcing Medellin cartel members to flee and finally killing Pablo Escobar.
At the time of his death, Pablo is said to have owned numerous properties across the country, and had a considerable amount of laundered money in foreign accounts all totaling some 30 billion dollars. But whatever happened to this wealth? That’s the big question.
Well, according to Quora, his assets, such as properties and cars, were seized by the Colombian government after his death as at the time, a ‘law of unjust enrichment’ had just been passed allowing seizure of such property. His private zoo at Hacienda Nápoles featuring exotic animals to Colombia such as hippos was turned into a theme park.
It is also believed that members of the Cali Cartel, which succeeded the Medellin cartel, forced Pablo Escobar’s family to sign over properties. Money in his international bank accounts is said to have been confiscated and shared between the American and Colombian governments.
[AP Photo/Luis Benavides]