Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pablo Escobar

Pablo Escobar, born December 1, 1949, in Antioquia, Colombia, entered the cocaine trade in the early 1970s. He collaborated with other criminals to form the Medellin Cartel and eventually controlled over 80% of the cocaine shipped to the U.S. He earned popularity by sponsoring charity projects and soccer clubs, but later terror campaigns turned public opinion against him. He was killed in 1993.

Drug lord, outlaw. Pablo Escobar was born in 1949. The son of a teacher and a peasant, his life of crime began early. While he was still in school he stole tombstones and sold them to smugglers from Panama. In the early 1970s he entered the cocaine trade. His ambition and ruthlessness amid the cocaine trade would make him one of the wealthiest, most powerful, and most violent criminals of all-time.

Under his leadership, large amounts of coca paste were purchased in Bolivia and Peru, processed, and brought to the United States. Escobar collaborated with five or six other illegal entrepreneurs from the Medellin area, forming the infamous Medellin Cartel.

Escobar eventually controlled over 80% of the cocaine shipped to the U.S. He was named one of the ten richest people on earth by Fortune and Forbes magazines. But his rise to infamy cost the lives of three Colombian presidential candidates, an attorney general, a justice minister, more than 200 judges, dozens of journalists, and over 1,000 police officers.

In his last years, Escobar seems to have removed himself from direct involvement in drug trafficking. Instead, he siphoned off profits from cocaine dealers through a kind of taxation system he also imposed on other criminals operating within his area of influence. He considered the tax a compensation for his contribution to the development of the Colombian cocaine industry and his efforts to have the American-Colombian extradition treaty of 1979 nullified.

Escobar's rise to prominence among Colombian drug traffickers is said to have been attributed to personal characteristics, influential ties, and a wise use of financial resources. To a large extent, Escobar's power rested on the purchased support of criminal groups that gave him a substantial capacity for the use of violence.Escobar invested his ill-gotten gains primarily in real estate, but he also acted as sponsor of charity projects and soccer clubs which earned him a certain degree of popularity and political standing, including a seat in parliament.

When the origin of his wealth became an issue of public debate, the U.S. increased pressure on Colombia to extradite him. Using terror, Escobar tried to influence Colombian politics towards a no-extradition clause and to grant amnesty to drug barons in exchange for giving up the drug trade. His terror campaign 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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