Pablo Escobar Biography

PHOTO: Pablo Escobar

Escobar was born the son of a teacher and a peasant. He began his criminal career while still in school, with the theft of tombstones that he sold to smugglers from Panama.

In the early 1970s he entered the cocaine trade. Under his leadership, large amounts of cocoa paste were purchased in Bolivia and Peru, processed and then taken to the United States.

Escobar collaborated with other criminals from the Medellin area. In addition, he profited from the business of other dealers and smugglers.

In his last years, Escobar removed himself from direct involvement in drug trafficking. Instead, he claimed profits from cocaine dealers through a kind of taxation system, which he considered a compensation for his efforts to have the American-Colombian extradition treaty removed.

Escobar invested his ill gotten gains in real estate, but he also acted as sponsor of charity projects and soccer clubs, which earned him popularity and political standing, including a seat in parliament.

But the origin of his wealth became an issue of public debate and the U.S. increased pressure on Colombia to extradite him. By means of terror, Escobar tried to influence politicians towards writing a no-extradition clause into the constitution, and to grant amnesty to drug barons, in exchange for giving up the drug trade.

The terror campaign initiated by Escobar claimed the lives of politicians, civil servants, journalists and ordinary citizens. It turned public opinion against him and caused a break-up of the alliance of drug traffickers.

After one year in prison, where Escobar had sought refuge from assassins, followed by several more months on the run, he was shot to death by members of a special police unit in 1993.

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