Pablo Escobar was born in 1949 in a village outside of Medellin, Colombia. It is unclear how his criminal career began but some claim that he started out by stealing and fencing gravestones as a teenager while others say that he started out selling counterfeit high school diplomas. By his early 20s, the future kingpin was involved in various scams such as selling contraband cigarettes and stealing cars. He also apparently earned a cool $100,000 in ransom money when he kidnapped a Medellin executive. Whatever rackets he was involved in must have been prosperous as proven by an estimated $3 million USD bank deposit that he made when he was 26.
In 1975, Escobar was developing a sophisticated cocaine trafficking operation. He loaded planes full of cocaine and sent them into the United States. The operation grew to the point that an estimated 80 tons of blow was being brought into the U.S. from Colombia every month in the early 1980’s. In his heyday he was literally making so much money that he didn’t know what to do with it. Losing millions of dollars per month didn’t bother him. Being responsible for the killings of thousands of people didn’t bother him. What did bother him was the United States’ government’s attempts to extradite him and those that opposed him in Colombia such as anti-drug politicians and a rival cartel. It was a bloody reign of terror that lasted for several years. Here are 15 Pablo Escobar photos that will scare you speechless.
15. The Inevitable
After his hideout was stormed, Pablo and his bodyguard tried to fight back and escape from the rooftop. Escobar’s bodyguard was felled first leaving Pablo to make his last stand by himself. He jumped out of a window and onto the roof where shots were exchanged. Escobar was shot in the leg and torso before taking one final and fatal gunshot to the ear. The chase was over. It isn’t known whether Pablo received the fatal shot during the gun battle or if he was finished off execution-style. Some of El Patron’s relatives claim that Escobar took his own life. We may never know what really happened on that rooftop on that December day in 1993 but we do know that Pablo Escobar’s reign of terror was over. He had just turned 44 the day before his death.
14. The End Draws Near
After escaping from his palatial prison in July 1992, Pablo was on the run from Colombian authorities as well as some American special forces that had joined the hunt. He was no longer the predator and he was trying desperately to get his beloved family to safety. A group known as Los Pepes had hunted down and killed over 300 of Escobar’s associates, relatives, and even his lawyer. They also destroyed loads of the cartel’s properties and possessions. Pablo’s last major mistake was engaging in a prolonged telephone conversation with his son. Authorities used radio triangulation to locate the exact spot where Escobar was. This picture shows the authorities storming the house in which Escobar was holed up with his bodyguard. It came down to one last fight for Don Pablo.
13. The Trophy
The man whose mere presence would scare the living daylights out of anyone when he was alive was reduced to being a harmless circus sideshow when his body was put on display for photographers after his death. It was a big day for Colombian and American officials who had put in so much time and money into bringing Pablo Escobar down. It was also a big day for the Cali Cartel who rejoiced at the fact that they finally had the opportunity to take over Colombia’s lucrative cocaine industry. The saga was far from over though. In the following years, several prominent people were tried and found guilty of various charges stemming from their involvement with Escobar. Killing Escobar certainly didn’t stop the flow of cocaine into the States as it continues to wreak havoc on the population.
12. What? Me Worry?
We’ve seen mug shots of countless celebrities with stupid grins on their faces but none of them send shivers down your spine like this photo does. Escobar’s career was on the rise in 1977 when he was arrested in Medellin. The look of confidence tells us that he wasn’t too worried about the minor inconvenience. You see, Pablo was a master at bribing people and the police along with courts officials were far from being immune. Actually, it wasn’t so much of a bribe as it was an ultimatum that was taken very seriously. He had a policy in which you could accept his generous gift of cash or accept a fatal bullet to the head. He called this policy “plata o plomo” which translates into “silver or lead”. Which one would you rather take?
11. Luxury Prison
Luis Carlos Galan was a senator and a forerunner to become the President of Columbia in the 1990 elections. He was also one of Pablo Escobar’s enemies. El Patron feared that if Galan were to become president that he would have Escobar extradited to the United States. In classic Escobar fashion, he had Galan assassinated in July 1989. Cesar Gaviria ended up winning the presidency and one of the first things he did was go after Pablo. The government wound up negotiating Escobar’s surrender. A couple of the conditions of surrender were that Escobar wouldn’t be extradited and he would be able to build and staff his own prison. He might look like he’s stuck behind the bars of a maximum-security facility but, in reality, it was a party palace. He even left the site whenever he wanted.
10. No Regular Guy
Just like Eddie Punch-clock needs to take a bit of time off for a family vacation, Pablo also took time off to take his beloved family on trips. He took in the sites of Washington, DC in 1981. For a guy that had so much clout in his home country, it’s truly chilling that he was able to blend in and pose with his son, Juan Pablo, outside the gates of the White House. He had not yet reached the pinnacle of his career and Ronald Reagan’s “war on drugs” was not yet declared but big trouble was brewing. Unlike Eddie Punch-clock, Pablo didn’t need to vacation on a shoestring budget. He was already raking in millions of dollars each day from his various enterprises. By the mid-1980’s it is estimated that he was earning a staggering $420 million per week.
9. Hacienda Napoles
Hacienda Napoles was one of Escobar’s luxury estates. It was located in Puerto Triunfo Antioquia Department which is about 93 miles east of Medellin and nearly 155 miles northwest of Bogota. The sprawling estate covered a whopping 7.7 square miles and contained a sculpture park, a colonial house, and a zoo complete with several exotic animals ranging from elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes, ostriches and other birds. It also had a private airport, go kart racing track, and even a bullring dotted the landscape. The Piper PA-18 Super Cub that is mounted atop the archway is a replica of the one used to transport his very first shipment of coke into the United States. Some of the other interesting things that you would have come across were dinosaur statues that children could play on and several decommissioned military vehicles.
8. The Family Man
Even though Pablo would leave his underlings, enemies, and anybody else who knew who he was shaking in their boots, Escobar was a fiercely devoted family man who would do anything to protect loved ones. Yet, Escobar had no qualms when it came to killing anyone who he deemed to have crossed him. Hundreds of children lost their fathers and hundreds of wives lost their husbands at the hands of El Patron. It didn’t matter how high of a profile his enemies had, nobody was out of his reach during his heyday. It’s estimated that he killed around 200 judges and hundreds of police, journalists, and other government officials in order to protect and grow his massive empire. Still, at the end of the day, he appeared to be a loving father and husband as shown in this picture.
7. Wanna Make 2.7 Billion Pesos?
Posters like the one in this photograph were everywhere in the late 80’s and early 90’s as the walls began to slowly close in on the infamous drug kingpin. If you were brave (or stupid) enough to attempt to turn in Popeye Vasquez, El Mugre Gallego, Otto Franco, or Tyson Mosquera then you could have earned a cool 100 million pesos. The real catch would have been El Patron himself. A 2.7 billion peso reward awaited anyone who could help authorities reel in the big fish. Of course, that’s not all that an intrepid bounty hunter stood to get. Those that crossed Pablo would normally meet a very grisly demise. Despite the opportunity to earn such a huge payday, very few people dared and Pablo was able to evade authorities for a few more years.
6. Everybody Listen Up!!
Don Pablo definitely had the ability to think outside the box. From his smuggling methods to the way he maintained a grip on his empire, Escobar was a very innovative and resourceful fellow. One of the biggest mistakes that Pablo made was drawing international attention to himself when he ran for a seat in Colombia’s Congress in 1982. He had the right idea of getting into a position through which he could change national policies but he didn’t foresee the unintended ramifications. He ended up being elected as an alternate in the House of Representatives. The play backfired as Pablo found himself being publicly attacked by fellow members of his Colombian Liberal Party. He ended up resigning in disgrace and found himself in the crosshairs of the American justice system.
Pablo comes across as an ordinary Joe who is enjoying a cold beer and kicking back on a nice day in this picture. Casually dressed and looking quite unassuming, Pablo appears to be entertained by something out of the camera’s periphery. Maybe he’s watching his kids play or maybe he’s reminding one of his henchmen that he doesn’t like his barbecued steak overcooked. Knowing what we know about Pablo Escobar, he could also be watching his soldiers deal with some unlucky guy that crossed him. Even though we’ve seen that he has a generous and gentle side, the guy was a psychopath who didn’t flinch when it came to meting out the ultimate punishment. What we see in this picture appears to be a regular guy but he was far from it.
4. The Cartel
When we think of the Medellin Cartel, most of us immediately think of Pablo Escobar but he was just one of the founding members. The three Ochoa Vasquez brothers were also co-founders of this multi-billion dollar business and the cartel also had George Jung and Carlos Lehder in the fold. This photo shows the four main figures gathered together for a day of entertainment. Nobody seemed to be aware of the camera except for Pablo who stared at the photographer as the photo is snapped. Who knows why the picture was taken but a very uneasy feeling must have enveloped whoever snapped it whether they were some kind of agent or simply a celebrity-struck fan. While he doesn’t look like he’s particularly peeved, he doesn’t seem to be overjoyed either.
Nearly 20 years after the cocaine kingpin’s death, Pablo Escobar is still seen by some as somewhat of a folk hero. Movies and television have chronicled his life with some focusing on his vicious side while others would make you think that the guy should be nominated for sainthood. After the success of a television series that focused on Escobar’s life, a picture album that featured the notorious Colombian, as well as actors from the television series, was made available in stores in and around Medellin. Those that bought the album could win prizes if they filled out the blank sheets within the book with pictures that were sold separately. It was quite controversial as the book was mainly aimed at children who might be swayed into wanting to imitate him.
2. Homage to a Bad Man
As this poster says, Pablo Escobar was a terrorist, a trafficker, and a killer among other things. Well over 20 years later, he has been immortalized in film and legend. Despite the pure evil that lived within him, many people still remember him for his generosity. After all, he gave loads of cash to the poor, built houses, and constructed community facilities such as soccer fields. He also reportedly once burned $2 million in cash in order to keep his daughter from being cold and let’s not forget about those outrageous bribes. However, none of the decency in this man could possibly ever make up for the harm he did to countless families, his own country, and other places around the world that were and are still plagued by such an insidious drug.
1. He Got His Wish
Pablo Escobar once said that he preferred a grave in Colombia to a jail cell in the United States. Well, he got his wish. His final resting place is located at the Cemetario Jardins Montesacro in Itagui, about a half-hour drive from his hometown of Medellin. Just as people make the pilgrimage to visit Elvis Presley’s grave at Graceland or Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris, Pablo Escobar’s final resting place is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Visitors to Medellin can sign up for a half-day Pablo Escobar tour in which they are taken to sites like the Monaco Building where he was nearly killed by the Cali Cartel, the hideout where he was killed, and his grave. Fresh flowers are frequently left at his resting place indicating that he still has his share of supporters.
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