Pablo Escobar is revered as the most powerful drug lord to ever exist. Born in a poor family in Rionegro, Colombia, his father was a peasant farmer, while his mother worked as an elementary school teacher. However, a young, ambitious Escobar is said to have begun his criminal career selling stolen gravestones, which he sanded down for resale. He is said to have gone to university and studied at the Universidad Autónoma Latinoamericana of Medellín, but left before obtaining his degree.
He was, at the time, said to have joined forces with Oscar Benel Aguirre and together, they sold contraband cigarettes, stole cars, and sold fake lottery tickets. By the early ’70s, Escobar is said to have kidnapped a Medellin businessman in a bid to get ransom. The plot went on successfully and Pablo made $100,000. He used the money as capital to get into the drug trade.
By 1975, he had bought a plane, which he used to smuggle drugs between Colombia and Panama. He is reported to have bought 15 more planes to expand the operation. One of those was a Learjet. He also bought six helicopters.
By the early ’90s, he and the Medellin cartel, which he led, controlled about 80 percent of the cocaine drug market in the United States. At the time, cocaine was relatively new, but was the trendy drug, and Colombia was the main supplier. On how this came about, its geography suited its growth. The following is a report on this detailing this.
“As the cocaine market flourished, Colombia’s geographical location proved to be its biggest asset. Situated at the northern tip of South America between the thriving coca cultivation epicenters of Peru and Bolivia, the country came to dominate the global cocaine trade with the United States, the biggest market for the drug, just a short trip to the north.”
This is as reported by Biography.
The coca paste was purchased in Bolivia and Peru and then processed in labs situated in the jungles of Colombia. It has been estimated that at least 15 tons of cocaine were being smuggled into the United States every week. This made Pablo one of the richest men in the world, with an estimated net worth of $30 billion in the 1990s, not adjusted for inflation.
“Pablo was earning so much that each year we would write off 10% of the money because the rats would eat it in storage or it would be damaged by water or lost,” according to Pablo’s accountant.
This is as reported by Business Insider.
The sum total adds to about $2.1 billion. He used the money to build schools, homes, soccer fields and churches for people in his community and thus was looked at favorably, even though he committed major atrocities in his time.
As such, to this day, there are families that are still grateful to him for helping them in times of need. For example, the neighborhood he built for the poor in Medellin is today nicknamed Pablo Escobar, and has a big flag bearing his image. Merchandise bearing his face or name is also highly popular.
Moreover, a TV series titled Escobar: The Boss of Evil, released by the Caracol TV network in Colombia became so successful that it had to be aired a second time as Pablo is idolized by many in his country. However, he is loathed by many others, especially those negatively affected by his anti-extradition campaign.
For example, one Federica Arellano, who spoke to the BBC said that seeing his image on television felt like a slap in the face as he lost his father in the airplane bombing of 1989 ordered by Pablo Escobar.
[AP Photo/Luis Benavides]