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12 things you (probably) didn’t know about Pablo Escobar

The life of Pablo.

Like him or loathe him (we suggest the latter, the man was a murdering drug dealer for goodness sake), Pablo Escobar achieved quite a lot in his 44 years. Much of it chronicled in Netflix's hard-hitting series Narcos.

With the first season now on DVD and Blu-ray we've assembled some facts about the famed drug lord to help uncover the man behind the myth.

  • 12 things you (probably) didn't know about Pablo Escobar

    Pablo Escobar got rich of the cocaine trade. Stupid rich.

    At the height of his powers, Pablo’s Medellín drug cartel was considered to be in control of 80 per cent of the cocaine that was shipped to the US and worth something in the region of $25billion. At the height of their powers, the cartel was smuggling around 15 tonnes of cocaine per day. In 1989, Forbes listed him as the 7th richest man in the world with a personal worth of over $3 billion. 

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    The Godfather and other nicknames

    He had many nicknames one that he was most known for was The King of Cocaine however during his life he had many other names including: Don Pablo, El Doctor (The Doctor), El Mágico (The Magician), El Padrino (The Godfather), El Patrón (The Boss), El Señor (The Lord), El Zar de la Cocaína, (The Tsar of Cocaine)

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    He had so much money he used to spend $2,500 a month on rubber bands to hold his cash.

    According to Pablo’s accountant and brother Robert, such was the amount of cash held by the Medellín drug cartel, that there were spending something in the region of $2,500 a month on rubber bands to wrap it all. Just get some cling film, surely?

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    He’s still regarded as something of a Robin Hood figure in his hometown

    Born the son of a farmer in Colombia’s second city Medellin, Pablo often talked of the poverty gap that was all too apparent in Colombia. Pablo used a portion of his wealth on developing real estate in his hometown, building barrios, parks, football stadiums, hospitals and churches in the area. To some, he was regarded as a working class hero come good, saving the poor while government officials did nothing.

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    He was responsible for over 4,000 deaths

    Those that didn’t take the silver option however, were often killed as Pablo made his bloody rise to the top of the drug trade. In total, the Medellin drug cartel was said to be responsible for approximately 4,000 deaths including rival drug lords, government officials and civilians. Make nothing of the myth, Pablo Escobar was a bad man.

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    He had so much money he lost millions annually to rats nibbling this money.

    With the majority of the Medellín money held in storage in various warehouses, a good percentage of Pablo’s ill gotten gains had to be written off due to “spoilage”. Be it water damage or rats nibbling at his $100 bills, Pablo Escobar wrote off more cash than most people earn in their lifetimes.   

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    He buried his treasure like a pirate

    Due to the amount of cash that was coming in per day, around $60m at the peak of his career, they had to hide the money somewhere. One idea was to use plastic oil drums so that the money could be buried. There were reports in 2012 that a Colombian farmer found over six hundred million stashed away in one of these drums. Anyone up for a trip to Colombia with a metal detector? 

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    He once burned $2 million to keep his daughter warm

    Sensing a theme here? Pablo Escobar’s life is once characterised by great violence funding great wealth.  In 1991 Pablo was on the run after escaping from luxury prison La Catedral. Staying in a farmhouse in the hills of Medellín, Pablo’s daughter soon fell ill with pneumonia, so in order to keep her warm he used nearly $2 million as kindle for fire. 

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    He even built his own prison

    By 1991, Pablo had gained one too many enemies and was under threat of being extradited from Colombia to the United States. Making a deal with the Colombian government, the kingpin had a custom luxury prison built – La Catedral, which he agreed to served a maximum of five years in rather than face American justice.  So Pablo built his own prison, and then filled it full of luxuries including a football pitch, a waterfall and a telescope that allowed him to look directly into his daughter’s house when he was on the phone to her. Oh, he walked out on La Catedral after a year. By using a back door.

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    He was a cut throat negotiator

    Pablo started his trafficking character in 1975 and fast gained a reputation for his no nonsense negotiating style. Those who would oppose him were often asked “plata o plomo” – “silver or lead”, offering the option of bribery or facing death. Many government officials chose the silver option.

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    Still questions on who took the fatal shot

    On 2nd December 1993, Escobar was shot in a gun fight. He suffered shots to the leg and torso during the fight between him and his bodyguard and the Colombian Police. Who made the fatal shot to his head is still unknown. Some say that it was the police but his brothers speculated that he committed suicide as they said that if he was ever cornered he would shoot himself between the ears. 

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    His funeral was chaos

    Over 25,000 people came to pay their respects to Escobar as a lot of people saw him as a hero. Douglas Farah, from the Washington Post and another writer from the Los Angeles Times were covering the funeral but were attacked as they were American as some blamed the press for his death and portrayal in America.