21 Wow Facts About Pablo Escobar
Vilified by most and adored by some, particularly in his hometown of Medellín in Colombia, Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria left behind a complex legacy. On one hand, he accumulated immense wealth first through smuggling counterfeit products and then through drug trafficking. He is in part responsible for the spread of cocaine culture and markets in the United States, as he found the most ingenious ways of shipping the drug and introducing it to the country. He was, long story short, an efficient and vicious criminal. On the other hand, he built the image of a benefactor, a man of the people. He built schools, churches and houses for the disadvantaged, a model that other capos like El Chapo Guzmán would follow.
Here’s some rare facts about the most famous cartel leader of all time, a man who even years after is death continues to be the subject of movies, narco telenovelas, TV shows and documentaries.
Escobar started his criminal career stealing cars
Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.
Yes, he had humble beginnings in the underbelly of society. He also smuggled items such as tombstones (weird eh?) before entering narcotics trade.
He once visited the White House
The year was 1981 and the Escobar family visited the capital of what in Latin America is known as the American Empire. A recent HBO documentary revealed this photo that shows the audacity of Escobar, who at this time was already a global leader in drug trafficking.
He was elected congressman in Colombia to seek immunity
Escobar was a public figure in Colombia for very early on. He was even elected to the Colombian Congress seeking parliamentary immunity so he could escape a potential extradition to the United States if his cartel was ever dismantled.
He even wanted to become president of Colombia
Pablo’s political ambition went as far as wanting to officially be the first in command in his country. However, when he was kicked off congress he told a confidant that the government was the real mafia. He desisted.
He was once considered the 7th richest man in the world
In what was basically an insult to the Colombian government, Forbes magazine listed Don Pablo as the seventh richest man in the whole planet… wonder what place he would have had in the list had all his hidden money been accounted for.
Planes, cars and… submarines!
Escobar has a knack for finding the most elaborate ways to get drugs into the US. When his fleet of cars, planes and boats wasn’t enough he bought a couple of subs to seal the deal.
The Medellín cartel spent $2,500 on rubber bands a month!
Yes, someone had to keep all that cash neatly together, right? Escobar’s criminal organization made so much lana that they needed thousands of rubber bands according to Business Insider magazine.
In fact he was so rich that he bough an island in The Bahamas: Cayo Norman
In this small piece of land he set up a high-end drug smuggling facility complete with giant freezers to keep the cocaine fresh. Of course, it has a small airport and all the amenities which of course included luxury homes for narco-style relaxing and debauchery.
Rats ate millions of dollars he stored in houses and fields
The problem of having way too much illegal money is that the cash needs to be stored somewhere. In his heyday, Escobar would make about $420 million dollars a week, and hiding all that cash was problematic. He buried it in fields, hid it in furniture and walls. Rats would get to it, but he didn’t really seemed to care.
In his prime, Escobar smuggled 15 tons of cocaine a day into the US. This is what that amount looks like:
This is an enormous amount of powder. The price went up immediately after entering US soil, which explains why Escobar amassed such an enormous fortune during his lifetime.
The hippos he owned escaped and are now reproducing in Colombia
Needless to say, 3-ton hippos are not supposed to live in Colombia, but when the kingpin was shot his pet hippos were forgotten and are now roaming the area where Hacienda Napoles used to be. There are about 30 of them and are causing real problems in the ecosystem.
His hacienda is now a Jurassic Park
Pablo Escobar’s state was seized by the Colombian authorities after his death. The kingpin’s beloved Hacienda Napoles was converted into a thematic park featuring real-size dinosaur sculptures.
He built 70 community soccer fields
Escobar loved building a Robin Hood persona, which kept him safe in his city. He was a big soccer fan and he built dozens of soccer fields for the youth.
But he was far from a good guy: he is responsible for the killing of 200 judges and 1,000 police, journalists, and government officials.
Escobar’s iron rule went from worse to worst during his reign as the leading trafficker in the world. Innumerable human right’s violations were perpetrated by Escobar’s men or by others as a consequence of the drug war.
Javier Bardem was nominated for a Goya (the Spanish Oscars) for playing him…
The Spanish actor played Don Pablo in a 2017 movie that follows his romance with TV reporter Virginia Vallejo (played by Penelope Cruz), who wrote the memoir on which the movie is based.
He briefly met El Chapo
The two biggest drug lords in history had a very brief encounter a couple of years before Escobar was killed. El Chapo was then an up and coming member of the Guadalajara Cartel. If we believe the recent El Chapo TV show, Escobar was impressed with the young man from Sinaloa.
Escobar married in 1976, aged 27… his bride was just 15
A 12-year difference between spouses is not that strange, but it gets kind of iffy when the bride is basically a teenager.
Narcotourism in his hometown is a booming business
Believe it or not, there are tours where visitors can sleep in Escobar’s state, see his collection of cars and roam the streets where he built his cartel. Even though Colombia wants to clean its public image, the legacy of drug culture persists.
He was shot a day after his 44th birthday. Talk about timing!
It is believed that Escobar had a longer conversation with his son than what he generally allowed himself to avoid being tracked. This happened a day after his 44th birthday. Ten minutes later the DEA and the Colombian special forces were onto him.
He died of a police shot in the head… or did he?
The official version argues that Escobar died of one last fatal shot in the head by the Colombian police (what Netflix’s show Narcos showed), but his son has declared that the final bullet indicated suicide. We will never know the truth.
More than 25,000 people attended his funeral
Don Pablo was revered by thousands, and his funeral in December 1993 was attended by friends, family and the people he helped. Night and day up until his very last day.