Pablo Escobar - The Wealthiest Criminal In The History

Published: Jan 05, 2017 17:11

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria (December 1, 1949 – December 2, 1993) was a Colombian drug lord, drug trafficker and narco-terrorist. His cartel, at the height of his career, supplied an estimated 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States, turning over US $21.9 billion a year in personal income. Often called "The King of Cocaine", he was the wealthiest criminal in history, with an estimated known net worth of US $30 billion by the early 1990s (equivalent to about $55 billion as of 2016), making him one of the richest men in the world at his prime.

Escobar was born in Rionegro, Colombia, and grew up in nearby Medellín. After briefly studying at Universidad Autónoma Latinoamericana of Medellín, he left without a degree and began to engage in criminal activity that involved selling contraband cigarettes, along with fake lottery tickets, and participated in motor vehicle theft. In the 1970s he began to work for various contraband smugglers, often kidnapping and holding people for ransom before beginning to distribute powder cocaine himself, as well as establishing the first smuggling routes into the United States, in 1975. His infiltration to the drug market of the U.S. expanded exponentially due to the rising demand for cocaine and, by the 1980s, it was estimated that 70 to 80 tons of cocaine were being shipped from Colombia to the U.S. on a monthly basis. His drug network was commonly known as the Medellín Cartel, which often competed with rival cartels domestically and abroad, resulting in high-rate massacres and the deaths of police officers, judges, locals and prominent politicians.

In 1982, Escobar was elected as an alternate member of the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia as part of the Colombian Liberal Party. Through this, he was responsible for the construction of many hospitals, schools, and churches in western Colombia, which gained him popularity inside the local Roman Catholic Church, as well as with the locals of the towns he frequented. However, Escobar was vilified by the Colombian and American governments, due to the exploits of his political power, which resulted in Colombia becoming the murder capital of the world. In 1993, Escobar was shot and killed by Colombian National Police, in his hometown, 24 hours after his 44th birthday.

While seen as an enemy of the United States and Colombian governments, Escobar was a hero to many in Medellín (especially the poor people). He was a natural at public relations, and he worked to create goodwill among the poor of Colombia. A lifelong sports fan, he was credited with building football fields and multi-sports courts, as well as sponsoring children's football teams. Escobar was also responsible for the construction of many hospitals, schools, and churches in western Colombia, which gained him popularity inside the local Roman Catholic Church. He worked hard to cultivate his Robin Hood image, and frequently distributed money through housing projects and other civic activities, which gained him notable popularity among the poor.

After becoming wealthy, Escobar created or bought numerous residences and safe houses, with the Hacienda Nápoles gaining significant notoriety. The luxury house contained a colonial house, a sculpture park, and a complete zoo with animals from various continents, including elephants, exotic birds, giraffes, and hippopotamuses. Escobar had also planned to construct a Greek-style citadel near it, and though construction of the citadel was started, it was never finished.

Escobar also owned a home in the US under his own name: a 6500 square foot, pink, waterfront mansion situated at 5860 North Bay Road in Miami Beach, Florida. The four-bedroom estate, built in 1948 on Biscayne Bay, was seized by the government in the 1980s. Escobar also owned a massive Caribbean getaway on Isla Grande, the largest of the cluster of the 27 coral cluster islands comprising Islas del Rosario, located approximately 22 miles from Cartagena. The compound, now half-demolished and overtaken by vegetation and wild animals, featured a mansion, apartments, courtyards, a large swimming pool, a helicopter landing pad, reinforced windows, tiled floors, and a large, unfinished building to the side of the mansion.

Soon after Escobar's death and the subsequent fragmentation of the Medellín Cartel, the cocaine market became dominated by the rival Cali Cartel until the mid-1990s when its leaders were either killed or captured by the Colombian government. The Robin Hood image that Escobar had cultivated maintained a lasting influence in Medellín. Many there, especially many of the city's poor whom Escobar had aided while he was alive, mourned his death, with over 25,000 people present for his funeral.