Colombia’s Most Wanted Man

In 1989, Pablo Escobar was the 7th richest man in the world. At 40 years old, the Colombian drug lord was worth more than 27 billion USD and listed in Forbes magazine as the 7th richest man in the world. How did he do it? Cocaine, lots and lots of cocaine.

For those who aren’t familiar with the life story of Pablo Escobar, we’ll give you a quick summary. Born in 1949, Escobar made his first million by smuggling goods from Panama into Colombia. According to Pablo’s brother Roberto Escobar he was smart, efficient and always paid on time making him a great business man and a one-day leader of Colombia’s largest drug cartel.

The Medellin cartel was by far the most successful and most powerful cartel in Colombia. At its height, the cartel was exporting 15 tonnes of cocaine a day into the United States – roughly worth half a billion dollars. Despite his role as a powerful drug cartel leader who controlled 80% of the flow of cocaine around the world, Escobar was a pious man who never smoked, drank or dabbled in drugs.

In 1982, Escobar was elected to Congress and fought to change the extradition laws in Colombia in order to prevent criminals to be taken from Colombia to be tried in the United States. Escobar once said “I prefer to be in the grave in Colombia than in a jail cell in the United States.” While in office he also worked to build his reputation as Robin Hood – a man who was committed to helping the poor people of Colombia. He built a neighborhood in one of Medellin’s poorest areas and was often seen handing out money to people on the streets. But after two years in Congress he was called out by a fellow politician as a drug lord and lost his position.

In 1989, Escobar declared war against the government when they began openly extraditing suspects related to the cocaine trade to the States to be prosecuted. As a result of the fighting between cartel and government, Medellin was named the most dangerous city in the world and Colombia the murder capital because of the cartel’s bombings and gun fights with the government. At one point during the violence, Escobar offered half a million peso reward for any man who killed a police officer. By the end of the year 600 police men were dead.

In 1993, Escobar’s reign as drug king ended when he was shot dead on a rooftop in Medellin. He had spent over a year and a half on the run, changing safe houses every two weeks. With the help of the American government, the Colombian police were able to hunt him down and kill him. Even though Escobar was dead and the Medellin cartel no longer had its leader, the drug trade continued. The Cali Cartel took over where the Medellin cartel had left off and it wasn’t until the late nineties that their leader was killed.

Today Colombia continues its work to eradicate the cocaine production and trade within its borders. The days of Escobar and the Medellin cartel are no longer and the country’s people are eager to change the perception of Colombia for outsiders.

The wanted poster for Pablo and Roberto Escobar hangs in a Medellin safe house

Gillian taking a ride in Escobar's bullet proof Chevy Silverado

Leah checking out Escobar's hog - a vintage Harley Davidson

At one of his many properties turned safe house, this secret spot is equipped with oxygen for the long haul

Pablo Escobar's grave at a private cemetery in Medellin

Gillian poses with Roberto Escobar, Pablo's brother and right hand man

Medellin, once the world's most dangerous city thanks to Escobar and his cocaine cartel