As the saying goes, those who live by the sword die by the sword. This is the story of Pablo Escobar, the most brutal and successful Colombian drug Lord;
Pablo Escobar was born on the 1st of December 1949 in Rionegro, Colombia into a respectable lower middle class family. He lived in a crime-prone community known as Envigado, a suburb of Medellin which influenced his indulgement in the life of crime before his teenage years. At school, Pablo proved himself to be an able and quick-witted student. Although tending toward the chubby side, thanks to his love of fast food, he was talented in all ball sports, with a special love for soccer. His early illegal activities included smuggling stereo equipment and stealing tombstones to resell. It wasn’t long before he started stealing cars, then moving into the smuggling business. At a that young age, Pablo was obsessed with the idea of raising himself up and told his friends and family that he wanted to become president of Colombia.
He became a marijuana addict at the age of 13 years. By the age of sixteen Pablo had developed into a plump, short youth, standing at just over five foot, six inches. He had a round face and wore a slight mustache. A couple of months before reaching his seventeenth birthday, he dropped out of school. After quitting school, the enterprising Pablo started up a little bicycle repair shop which was not lucrative because he was only living off the natives’ pittance. He later indulged in robbery in which he would slip a mask over his head and rush into a business with a knife or gun in hand, demand the money and then get out of there. It all happened in about 30 seconds.
After a few successful robberies, Pablo recruited his cousin, Gustavo to join him. Their story formed part of the backbone of the 2015 Netflix series Narcos.
Unfortunately, he grew bored of robbery thus had to delve in something bigger and profitable- stealing of cars by buying spare keys from the car dealer. Moreover, not long after his few crimes, he was jailed for several months and once back on the street, Pablo and his cousin Gustavo went right back to stealing cars. Pablo was hired by many people to protect their cars because he developed a reputation as an unpredictable and violent young man. If anyone owed him money, Pablo would hire some local thug to kidnap the person. He would them ransom him for whatever was owed to him. From time to time he would have the person killed even when the ransom was paid, simply to engender fear in those he dealt with.
Before long, Pablo decided to specialize in kidnappings but whenever the ransom was paid, he gave the money to the poor therefore despite all his evil, the poor viewed him as the Robin Hood who would finally bring equality to the community.
In 1971, the 22-year old Pablo after working for sometime for famous drug dealers, he decided to be his own boss by buying from the source and killing the drug lord making him the leader of the Medellin drug operation. Shortly after muscling his way to the top of the Medellin cocaine syndicate, Pablo married fifteen-year-old Maria Victoria Helena Vellejo therefore he had a wife, wealth and power. It seemed like the sky was the limit!
One of the famous Escobar stories was of him getting out of trial by hiring a lawyer who was the relative to only judge who was unwilling to accept his bribe. Once the officials found out the judge and the lawyer were related, the judge was asked to recuse himself since there could be a possible conflict of interest. The new judge accepted Pablo’s bribe in a split second and the case was dismissed.
By 1980, Pablo was at the height of his power because of his wealth, fame and his ‘die if you reject my bribe’ policy. In public, he always portrayed a formal, likeable persona and appearing humble and polite.
From 1980 to 1982, Pablo did more to help out the poor in Medellin than the Colombian government had ever done. One of his most popular initiatives was a housing project called Barrio Pablo Escobar, where houses were built and given to families who had previously been sheltering in shacks at the city dump. This and a host of other projects easily made him the most popular citizen in Medellin.
His dreams of presidency had still not dimmed out so he decided to pursue a career in politics and unfortunately, that was the beginning to his end. Then, in 1982 he ran for, and was elected to Congress, albeit as a substitute who attended when the primary delegate from Medellin was unavailable. A major perk of being elected to Congress was that Pablo now had judicial immunity, meaning that he could not be convicted for a crime under Colombian law.
One day in parliament, feeling vulnerable amongst respectable and literates in the society, he was exposed by the Chamber president, Justice Minister Rodrigo as a murderer thus reducing support amongst the local people. All his dirty linen were all over every form of media and the poor he once supported were against him. Justice Rodrigo was shot and killed with 7 bullets soon after. The people declared war on Escobar since he had declared war on the state. For Pablo the heat was too much to bear and he skipped the country, taking a helicopter to Panama City.
Pablo was all out for war after the kidnaping of his father and at the end of all the conflicts and disagreements, 30 judges had been killed. Eventually he agreed to negotiate.
Pablo agreed to put an end to the violence, stop all criminal activity and hand himself in. In exchange he demanded preferential treatment in a prison of his choosing and a reduced settlement. Pablo was duly arrested and tried. He began his sentence at La Catedral prison in June, 1991. But this was like no other prison on earth. It featured a football pitch, Jacuzzi and bar. The prison guards were all employees of Pablo. The prison cells were more like hotel suites and the food that Pablo and his fellow inmates ate was prepared by chefs who were brought in from fine restaurants. Pablo violated the agreement by killing two of his guards hence had to de sent to an actual prison. Pablo’s connections enabled him to get wind of the plan and he escaped before the authorities could get to him.
The hunt for Pablo was back on. But now the US and Colombian authorities were joined by a vigilante group known as Los Pepes, which stood for ‘People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar.’ Los Pepes carried out a ruthless campaign, killing as many as three hundred people who were connected to Pablo and his organization. The Escobar Empire was falling apart! He was spending nights sleeping in the jungle, afraid to speak on the radio or to answer the phone.
Fate finally caught up with Pablo Escobar on December 2nd, 1993. Members of a Colombian Search Bloc team had tracked him down to a house in the barrio of Los Olivos in Medellin via radio intercepts. In the house with Pablo was his most loyal bodyguard, known as Limon. They both bolted from the front room and made their way up onto the roof. The six Search Bloc members, along with others outside poured a massive barrage of gunfire at their targets. Limon was hit several times in the back and toppled to the ground below.
Pablo was struck several times in the leg and torso but the fatal shot penetrated his skull. On confirming his target, the leader of the operation spoke excitedly into his radio . . . ‘VIVA LA COLOMBIA – WE HAVE JUST KILLED PABLO ESCOBAR!’
Was it worth being charitable through unconventional means?