May 18, 2024

Pablo Escobar

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, (1 December 1949 – 2 December 1933) was a Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorism who was the founder and sole leader of the Medellin cartel. Escobar was the wealthiest criminal in history, having amassed an estimated net worth of U.S. $30 billion by the time of his death – equivalent to $70 billion as of 2022 while his drug cartel monopolized the cocaine trade in the United States in the 1980s and early 1990s. Pablo was born Rionegro and raised in Medellin, Escobar studied briefly at Universidad Autonoma Latinoamericana of Medellin, but left without graduating; he instead began engaging in criminal activity, selling illegal cigarettes and fake lottery tickets, as well as participating in motor vehicle theft. In the early 1970s, he began to work for various drug smugglers, often kidnapping and holding people for ransom.

In 1991, Escobar surrendered to authorities, and was sentenced to five years imprisonment on a host of charges, but struck a deal of no extradition with Colombian president Cesar Gaviria, with the ability to be housed in his own, self-built prison, la Catedral.  In 1992, Escobar escaped and went into hiding when authorities attempted to move him to a more standard holding facility, leading to a nationwide manhunt. His killing was mourned and his funeral was attended by over 25,000 people. His life has also served as inspiration for or has been dramatized widely in film, television, and in music. On 2 December 1993, Escobar was found in a house in a middle-class residential area of Medellin by Colombian special forces using technology provided by the United States. Police tried to arrest Escobar, but the situation quickly escalated to an exchange of gunfire. Escobar was shot and killed while trying to escape from the roof. He was hit by bullets in the torso and feet, and a bullet struck him in the ear killing him. This sparked debate about whether he killed himself or whether he was shot dead.

 Despite Escobar’s numerous and continual infidelities, Maria remained supportive of her husband. Members of the Cali Cartel even replayed their recordings of her conversations with Pablo for their wives to demonstrate how a woman should behave. This attitude proved to be the reason the cartel did not kill her and her children after Pablo’s death, although the group demanded (and received) millions of dollars in reparations for Escobar’s war against them. Henao even successfully negotiated for her son’s life by personally guaranteeing he would not seek revenge against the cartel or participate in the drug trade. After escaping first to Mozambique, then to Brazil, the family settled in Argentina.  Living under her assumed name, Henao became a successful real estate entrepreneur until one of her business associates discovered her true identity, and Henao absconded with her earnings. Local media were alerted, and after being exposed as Escobar’s widow, Henao was imprisoned for eighteen months while her finances were investigated. Ultimately, authorities were unable to link her funds to illegal activity, and she was released. Her son, Henao, fell in love with Escobar “because of his naughty smile and the way he looked at her. He was affectionate and sweet. A great lover. I fell in love with his desire to help people and his compassion for their hardships. We would drive to places where he dreamed of building schools for the poor. From the beginning, he was always a gentleman.” The judge ordered the seizing of assets for about $1m each.  In 2014, Marroquín published Pablo Escobar, My Father under his birth name. The book provides firsthand insight into details of his father’s life and describes the fundamentally disintegrating effect of his death upon the family. Marroquín aimed to publish the book in hopes to resolve any inaccuracies regarding his father’s excursions during the 1990s.