Pablo Escobar is widely regarded to be the most powerful and richest drug lord to ever have lived. Born in Antioquia, Colombia in 1949, he was able to dominate the cocaine drugs trade in the late 80s and early 90s, supplying about 80 percent of the drug being used in the United States. Having come from a poor background, he is said to have been incredibly ambitious, even at a young age, at one time telling his friends that he would one day become the president of Colombia, an ambition that he pursued as an adult.
One of the key elements that enabled Pablo Escobar’s drug trafficking network to grow so fast was the location of Colombia. The country bordered two countries, Peru and Bolivia, where coca cultivation was thriving. The United States, its main market, was just a short distance away from the north, granting him easy access to two vital aspects of the business, the market, and the supplier.
His drug trafficking network, the Medellin Cartel, is said to have been instrumental in its expansion as it included foresighted individuals such as Carlos Lehder who was able to come up with ingenious ways of maintaining influence in the drug trade and getting the cocaine to America with ease. Carlos is widely accredited for bringing the fight to the M19 guerrilla group which kidnapped the daughter of Fabio Ochoa, one of the Medellin cartel members. The following is what Carlos Toro, a close associate of Carlos Lehder, had to say about his involvement according to an interview with PBS.
“Carlos was the mastermind of the movement to go after the kidnappers. It was well funded and there were killings everywhere, so serious that the kidnappers took him seriously. Carlos earned that elevation in his power when they saw that he had tremendous capabilities of getting organized and doing things.”
The Medellin Cartel is said to have grown so much that at one point, it even involved Fidel Castro. According to Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, who once worked as a bodyguard for Fidel Castro, he once encountered a facet of Fidel Castro’s life that he had never before imagined, and that was drug trafficking.
Albeit indirectly, Fidel Castro is reported to have authorized drug traffickers to use his country as a route for drugs destined for the United States. This is according to his book The Double Life of Fidel Castro, which brings to light some of the little-known aspects about the dictator. The following is an excerpt from it describing the moment.
“Abrantes (the General) asked for Fidel’s authorization to bring this trafficker temporarily to Cuba as he wanted to have a week’s vacation in his native land, accompanied by his parents, in Santa María del Mar — a beach situated about 12 miles east of Havana where the water is turquoise and the sand as fine as flour. For this trip, explained Abrantes, the lanchero would pay $75,000 — which, at a time of economic recession, wouldn’t go amiss. . . Fidel was all for it.”
This is as reported by the New York Post. According to John Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, one of Pablo Escobar’s top hitmen, his drugs also passed through Cuba. Apparently, he communicated with Raul and Fidel Castro through letters delivered by special emissaries. His main hitman revealed this while speaking to Puerto Rico’s Wapa TV. He also stated that Raul Castro received cocaine shipments on behalf of Pablo Escobar en route to the United States and Fidel Castro knew about this. He also added the following.
“I am going to give you a key bit of information: The link between everyone [Escobar, Cuba and the US] is called Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Laureate.”
This is according to Business Insider.
[Featured Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]