The “king of cocaine” was the son of a poor Colombian farmer. But by the time he was 35, he was one of the world’s wealthiest men.
Despite his humble origins, Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria became the infamous leader of the Medellín cartel — responsible for 80% of the global cocaine market.
“El Patron,” as he’s often called, brought in an estimated $US420 million a week in revenue, easily making him one of the wealthiest drug lords in history.
While verifying Escobar’s wealth is impossible due to the nature of drug money, figures range up to $US30 billion.
1. In the mid-1980s, Escobar's cartel brought in an estimated $420 million a week, which totals almost $22 billion a year.
2. Escobar made the Forbes' list of international billionaires for seven years straight, beginning in 1987 until 1993. In 1989, he was listed as the seventh richest man in the world.
According to journalist Ioan Grillo, the Medellín cartel smuggled most of its cocaine straight over the Florida coast.
'It was a nine-hundred-mile run from the north coast of Colombia and was simply wide-open. The Colombians and their American counterparts would airdrop loads of blow out to sea, from where it would be rushed ashore in speedboats, or even fly it right onto the Florida mainland and let it crash down in the countryside,' Grillo wrote.
4. In other words, of the Americans doing cocaine, four in five of them were snorting lines supplied by 'El Patron.'
5. The 'king of cocaine' factored in a $2.1 billion loss in profits each month, but that didn't really matter.
Escobar's immense wealth became problematic when he couldn't launder his cash quick enough.
He resorted to stashing piles of cash in Colombian farming fields, dilapidated warehouses, and in the walls of cartel members' homes, according to Roberto Escobar, the cartel's chief accountant and the kingpin's brother, in his book, 'The Accountant's Story: Inside the violent world of the Medellín cartel.'
'Pablo was earning so much that each year we would write off 10% of the money because the rats would eat it in storage or it would be damaged by water or lost,' Escobar wrote.
That would be about $US2.1 billion, given how much money he was reportedly making.
Escobar simply had more money than he knew to do with, and therefore haphazardly losing money to rodents and mould wasn't an issue.
While hiding or destroying the exorbitant amount of money was one issue, the brothers faced another much more elementary problem -- neatly organising the banknotes.
According to Roberto Escobar, the Medellín cartel spent an estimated $US2,500 a month on rubber bands which were needed to hold stacks of bills together.
In a 2009 interview with Don Juan magazine, Escobar's son Juan Pablo, 38, who has since changed his name to Sebastián Marroquín, described what life was like on the run with the 'king of cocaine.'
According to Marroquín, the family was living in a hideout in the Medellín mountainside when Escobar's daughter Manuela became hypothermic.
Escobar decided to torch $US2 million in crisp banknotes to keep her warm.
Source: Don Juan magazine
8. He was nicknamed 'Robin Hood' after handing out cash to the poor, building housing for the homeless, constructing 70 community soccer fields, and building a zoo.
9. He cut a deal with Colombia to be imprisoned, but in a luxury prison he built and named 'la catedral' meaning cathedral.
In 1991, Escobar was incarcerated in his self-designed prison he named 'la catedral.'
In the terms of his agreement with the Colombian government, Escobar was allowed to select who was imprisoned with him and who worked in the prison. He could also continue to run his cartel business and receive visitors.
La catedral was equipped with a soccer field, barbecue pit and patios and was nearby another compound he built separately for his family.
Also, the Colombian authorities were not allowed within 3 miles of his prison.
Source: Airship Daily
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