Nearly 30 years since he was killed at the rooftop of his house, the country has ceaselessly tried to detach itself from Pablo Escobar, the drug lord’s cocaine stain. But try as much as they have, their efforts have been futile.
When we talk about the richest people of the 20th Century, Pablo Escobar would be up there. Escobar had a life that was almost perfectly tailored for Hollywood. Dubbed “The King of Cocaine”, Escobar has risen to ‘pop culture favorite’ status. Countless movies and songs have made allusions to his wealth and power.
But for the new initiates, who is Pablo Escobar?
As founder and sole leader of the Medellín Cartel, Escobar established the first smuggling routes for cocaine into the United States. He was so dominant that his chain supplied 80% of the world’s cocaine. Expectedly, he rose to become one of the richest people in the world. For seven straight years (1987-1993), Escobar appeared on Forbes’ list of international billionaires. By the time of his death, he had amassed an estimated net worth of US $30 billion by the time of his death — equivalent to US $59 billion as of 2019.
But the cocaine business is hardly ever without casualties. Dead bodies followed every cartel war and this gave Colombia the unwanted title of Murder Capital of the World.
Escobar was so influential that even after surrendering in 1991 and receiving a five-year sentence, he was still able to sway the president of Colombia into allowing him serve the sentence in a prison he built for himself. How about that for power!
But this was not too last for long. In the attempt to move Escobar to a standard prison a year later, he managed to escape. And after months of tracking and over a hundred million spent in the pursuit, he was eventually shot to death in his hometown a day after his 44th birthday.
Pablo Escobar’s absurd wealth
At some point, Escobar started to save his money in warehouses and Colombian faming fields. Escobar had so much money that his accountant, Roberto Escobar, said that they always factored in a 10% loss in profit (about US $2 billion) because rats ate some of the money.
Not only was he stupendously rich, he was also eccentric. In one of those moments of extravagant show of wealth, Pablo Escobar burned $2 million cash just to keep his cold daughter warm. Yes, burn. He lit the cash to ashes. (So yes, long before snakes started swallowing money in Nigeria, rats have been eating hard Benjamins).
This is based on the narration of Escobar’s eldest son, Juan (now known as Sebastián Marroquín). According to Marroquín, the family was in one of Escobar’s many hideouts in the Medellín mountainsides when his sister Manuela became hypothermic. That $2 million became ashes; and the rest, they say, is history.
As a Nigerian, I’m sure you must have heard Escobar’s name in some of the hip-hop songs. Not sure what they are trying to promote but my guess is that it has to do with ‘burning’ money…at clubhouses.