How Pablo Escobar Terrorized Bogota, Colombia While At War With The Government

Pablo Escobar is no doubt among the most infamous drug lords of all time. At the peak of his power, he terrorized numerous Colombian cities, including Bogota, while at war with the government over its extradition policy. It allowed fearsome drug lords like Escobar to be extradited to the United States. This was after they became too powerful for the government to handle. With a net worth that rose by a few billion dollars each year and an unrivalled control of the U.S. cocaine market, Pablo had more than enough resources to undermine the system through corruption. He also intimidated and assassinated those he couldn’t bribe.

Problems Taking Him Down

Initially, the biggest problem that the Colombian government faced while attempting to take down the most powerful drug lord in the country was the fact that he had won the hearts and minds of many in his hometown, Medellin. For example, “The Search Bloc,” a unit created by the government to capture him, avoided asking for assistance from the local police as many were believed to be on Escobar’s payroll. The unit consisted of members who had no local origins (native Antioquians) as a precaution. As a result, members of the Search Bloc stood out when they first went to Medellin and hardly got any intel from locals. Their thick accents apparently gave them away. According to Business Insider, they even got lost during their first mission. The Search Bloc eventually cornered Escobar and gunned him down in Medellin, Colombia, in December, 1993.

War In Bogota

Pablo Escobar’s men carried out countless assassinations across the country, once he went to war with the government. His chief enforcer, John Jairo Velasquez Vasquez, aka Popeye, recently put the number of ordered deaths to be about 3,000, according to a report by the Mirror. In Medellin, Search Bloc members were hunted down by his men and shot at gun point. Thirty of the initial 200 men were reportedly cut down within weeks. However, hundreds of officers were called in to back up the remaining men, thereby intensifying the pressure on Escobar. He responded by going after the very men who headed the efforts.

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The Palace Of Justice Siege

On November 6, 1985, Colombia got an awakening on just how far Pablo Escobar was willing to go to avoid extradition to the United States. Members of the M19 guerrilla group, with the financial backing of the drug lord, stormed the Palace of Justice in Bogota, holding 25 Supreme Court justices hostage. Over the next 48 hours, violence rocked the capital, as the army launched an offensive to take control of the situation. In the end, about 40 M19 members were killed and 11 judges were slain.

The DAS Building Bombing

The DAS Building bombing in Bogota, ordered by Pablo Escobar, occurred in December, 1989, with Gen. Miguel Maza Marquez, the Administrative Department of Security head being its target. He coordinated security efforts against drug lords in the country. Fifty-two people died in the blast, which leveled several buildings. A van carrying a 1,100-pound bomb was used. Pablo Escobar and Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha were blamed for the attack. That said, Maza came away unscathed.

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[Featured Image by Luis Benavides/AP Images]