1 Pablo Escobar was born on a cattle ranch in 1949, the second year of The Violence, a civil war that left hundreds of thousands dead. It was popular to stab a victim in the neck, pull the tongue through the gap and hang it down the chest, which was called wearing a Colombian Necktie.
2 The atmosphere at home was heavily religious. They had a figurehead of Jesus with realistic blood. After his mother told him Christ’s story, young Pablo was so sad that when lunch was served, he put a piece of meat in his corn cake and took it to the figurehead. “Poor man, who made you bleed? Do you want a little meat?” This act convinced his mother that he was kind and religious. For the rest of his life, Pablo always tried to sleep with an image of Jesus nearby.
3 In Peru, Pablo hooked up with suppliers of cocaine paste who were offering it for $60 a kilo at a time when a kilo of cocaine was selling for up to $60,000 in America. Pablo discovered he could sell any amount. To outsmart the authorities, his methods of transportation varied. He invested in submarines, commissioning his brother, Roberto, to manufacture them with the help of foreign engineers.
He made so much money from cocaine that he what was the seventh richest man in the world according to Forbes. From 1987, he made the Forbes richest list seven years in a row. Estimates of his net worth range up to $30 billion.
|Pablo and his son outside of the White House|
4 A lover of birds, Pablo owned a parrot that recited the names of Colombian soccer players. Unfortunately, she fell asleep after drinking some whiskey and was eaten by a cat. After that, Pablo banned all cats from the zoo at his $100 mill ranch, including lions and tigers.
|Entrance to Pablo’s ranch, Hacienda Napoles|
5 In 1983, his zoo received 60,000 visitors, who drove through the grounds to watch animals such as antelope, elephants, gazelles, zebras, exotic birds, giraffes, hippopotami, ostriches, a soccer-playing kangaroo and an elephant that stole food from people’s cars. On November 17, 1983, Pablo was fined 450,000 pesos for the illegal importation of eighty-five animals, including camels, elk and a large Amazonian rodent called a capybara.
6 Pablo bought a 1930s Cadillac that looked like the one driven by Al Capone. To make it seem as if Capone had actually owned it, Pablo allegedly had strafed it with gunfire.
7 Pablo sang in the shower and had a dry sense of humour.
When asked by a journalist, “Do you feel bigger than Al Capone?”
Pablo replied, “I’m not that tall, but I think Al Capone was a few centimetres shorter than I am.”
8 To shield himself from his enemies, including the government and the rival Cali cartel, Pablo commissioned the building of his own prison called the Cathedral, which he surrendered to. After adorning the prison with luxuries and ordering the murder of two of his associates who’d visited the prison, the Galeano and Moncada brothers, special forces raided the Cathedral, but Pablo escaped.
9 Pablo was doomed after a much bigger gangster tried to take him out: George HW Bush. Ex-CIA pilot Chip Tatum has alleged that some of Pablo’s billions in Panama ended up in George HW Bush’s hands, just like Pablo liquidated the assets of the Galeano and Moncada brothers. It was a case of a big gangster shaking down a smaller one.
10 There are conflicting versions of how Pablo died. His family believes that he committed suicide. His motto was, “Rather a coffin in Colombia than a jail cell in America.” Having pledged to never be captured or killed, he shot himself in the head to deprive the government of being able to claim that they had killed him. Surrounded by special forces, Pablo was shot three times: in his back, leg and above his right ear. His brother, Roberto, believes the wound above the ear was the suicide shot.
|Troops pose with Pablo’s corpse|
For Pablo’s full story, checkout the book Pablo Escobar: Beyond Narcos, available worldwide on Amazon UK Amazon USA