Pablo Escobar’s unbelievable life in pictures

The King of Cocaine's life on film

With Netflix’s Golden Globe-nominated drama Narcos being such a worldwide hit, we thought we’d take a look at the man at the centre of the story (in the first two seasons at least) and his life in pictures: Pablo Escobar.

Who was Pablo Escobar?

Head of the notorious Medellín Cartel and the wealthiest criminal in history, Escobar had almost $30 billion to his name by the early 1990s – money gathered through meticulously-planned, nefarious and often murderous means. And although ‘The King of Cocaine’ was killed by a Colombian Special Operations team at the age of 44, he lived one of the fullest, most fascinating and flush lives of any figure in history.

Starting small

Escobar’s criminal career began with petty street scams, counterfeiting lottery tickets, selling contraband cigarettes and stealing cars. Of course, he soon decided to set his sights a little higher.

Take-off

Audacious as it may sound, Escobar first began smuggling cocaine by flying it into the United States himself. Later, he paid airline pilots to smuggle the drugs in the landing gear housing of commercial jet liners.

The numbers game

Each day, the Medellín Cartel smuggled 15 tonnes of cocaine into the United States – worth $60 million. That’s $1.8 billion a month, or $22 billion a year – with $4,000 a month of the takings being spent on rubber bands to keep their money together.

‘Prison’

Amidst the threat of extradition, Escobar made a deal with the Colombian Government to serve five years in his native country. However, the drug lord not only got to choose his own guards, but also design and build his very own personal prison. The result: La Catedral (The Cathedral), which included a football field, jacuzzi bar and waterfall on its premises.

Under fire

Escobar was so committed to the safety of his children that when he was on the run from the authorities and his daughter began suffering from hypothermia, the drug lord burned in excess of $2 million to keep her warm.

Two ways

Escobar lived by the ethos ‘plata o plomo’, or ‘silver or lead’ – which referred to the choice the cartel leader gave to those who opposed him. Either take a bribe and be paid off (silver) or face the bullets (lead).

Familia

Escobar fell in love with his wife, Maria Victoria Henao, in 1974. He was 25, while she was just 13. They married two years later, remained together until Escobar’s death and had a son and a daughter, Sebastián Marroquín (born Juan Pablo Escobar) and Manuela Escobar.

Money talks

Using his vast fortune, Escobar bought his way into Colombian Congress, which granted him immediate judicial immunity. The position also entitled him to a diplomatic visa, allowing the drug lord to travel to Miami where he bought several mansions.

Making a name

Escobar had many different nicknames during his eventful life. Many referred to him as ‘Don Pablo’, but other monikers ranged from El Padrino (The Godfather), El Patrón (The Boss) and El Señor (The Lord) to El Mágico (The Magician), El Pablito (little Pablo) and El Zar de la Cocaína (The Tsar of Cocaine).

Thought Pablo Escobar was bad? Meet the Cali Cartel.

Further Reading