Gangster of the Week: Pablo Escobar

Preston Waters

Legendary Colombian gangster, Pablo Escobar’s reputation for committing inhumane acts is storied. Allegedly, he is responsible for an absolutely incredible 80 percent of the cocaine trade into the USA over the course of the 1970s and 1980s, and he, himself, is linked to a morbid 4,000 deaths. Though low in moral fiber, there was no doubting his ridiculous wealth. The man was capable of catapulting himself from the impoverished Medellin, Colombia to the richest man in the world, according to Forbes. 

In previous editions of Gangster of the Week, we have cast a beneficial light on our subjects and hailed the profiled criminals as a case of honest intentions gone awry. However, in Escobar’s case, he was set on being the richest, most powerful and violent man on earth from an early age.

Though we cannot at all condone the nefarious life of this gangster, there are obvious entrepreneurial parallels we can draw from his meteoric rise to riches.

His ROI was 20,000 percent

In business, return on investment (ROI), refers to the return you see on every dollar you invest into your product. Cocaine kingpin Escobar saw an ROI of as much as 20,000 percent. Simply put, for every $1 invested into the cocaine trade he made about $200 in return.

$1 billion went to the rats annually

According to Roberto Escobar, Pablo’s brother: “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.” The profits at the time were rumored to be somewhere around $20 billion. They were apparently so rich that Roberto allegedly spent $2,500 on rubber bands alone, just to “hold the money together.”    

The richest man in the world

In 1989, Forbes magazine named the infamous Pablo Escobar the seventh richest man, after he had amassed a fortune somewhere in the realm of $25 billion.    

Pablo Escobar bought a Learjet to fly his cash

Working in business that primarily dealt in cash, Escobar needed to a method to move his back to his home in Colombia. He initially used a small place, but as its capacity was around $10 million, Escobar was forced to upgrade to a larger plane.

Escobar purchased a Learjet — a plane that was not only a much faster means of transport but could also hold up to 10 times as much cash as the prior model.

Cold blooded killer

It is estimated that Escobar was personally responsible for somewhere around 4,000 deaths. His targets were not merely in the drug world, as they also included political figures. Escobar infamously called for the death of a Colombian presidential candidate because he supported extradition to the US. He is also allegedly responsible for taking out a commercial airliner so that he could kill a man who turned out not even to be on that plane. He also destroyed a considerable amount of Colombia’s capital city, Bogota, after he bombed a building.

It was not out of character for him to routinely murder important societal figureheads, including police officers. He was responsible for a heavy amount of car bombings and kept Colombia’s citizens living in fear.

Pablo Escobar was suspected of bombing the World Trade Center

Pablo Escobar was, at one time, suspected to have a hand in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

Despite the many heinous crimes Escobar was admittedly responsible for, he was completely appalled to be accused as such and sent a note to the US Ambassador to Colombia: “You can take me off the list… because if I had done it I would be saying why I did it and what I want.”    

Pablo Escobar built his own barrio

Medellin will inextricably be connected to Pablo Escobar’s escapades in drug-trafficking forever. Though he had his many detractors, some Colombian citizens have related the kingpin, Don Pablo, to a real-life Robin Hood.

He was responsible for food programs, he erected public parks, and he created a neighborhood, Barrio Pablo Escobar, to house the city’s poor and homeless. They were not responsible for rent nor were they required to pay property taxes. The downside was the prominence of drug selling in the area.

The death sentence

Escobar’s demise was not something that was easily brought about. A special task force was assembled for the job, which was made up of SEAL Team 6, US Delta Force operators and Colombia’s own police force tasked solely with the purpose of ousting this kingpin. The consortium was labeled Search Bloc, and after much violence, were capable of taking him down.

It doesn’t always run in the family

Sebastián Marroquín, the son of the legendary gangster, has made great strides in anti-drug trafficking laws, proving the apple sometimes does fall far from the tree.


Preston Waters