Pablo Escobar: The Richest Criminal In The World's History

Pablo Escobar wasn't just one of history's most notorious criminals; he was also the richest. At the time of his death, his net worth had skyrocketed to $30 billion, that's about $64 billion adjusted for inflation. As founder and leader of the Medellin Cartel, Escobar wiped out his competitions and created a multi-billion dollar narcotics empire; in the 1980s and early 90s, the Medellin Cartel had a near-monopoly on narcotics trade in the United States. 

How Pablo Escobar Amassed His wealth

Escobar controlled the trafficking routes and the supply, which meant he had more money than he knew what to do with it. He used his wealth to expand his business and buy whatever his heart desired. Before becoming El Padrino, Pablo Escobar cut his teeth as a low-level thug in Medellin's criminal underworld.

He spent his youths running scams, and in the early 70s, he transitioned to more serious crimes like kidnapping. He allegedly earned $100,000 by holding a Medellin executive for ransom. This was his first taste of real money. But the cash started to roll in when he entered the narcotics trade and started working for a local drug smuggler. By the time Escobar was 22, he was worth $1 million, and by 26, he was worth $3 million.

Escobar's greed knew no bounds, and he decided he needed to branch out on his own. In 1975, Escobar developed his own narcotics operation by flying planes along smuggling routes between Colombia, Panama, and the United States. This was just the beginning of Escobar's Medellin Cartel.

He wanted to expand as quickly as possible, and he did so by any means necessary. The Cartel seized the operation of a rival drug trafficker, who was likely dispatched at the orders of Escobar. As demand for narcotics in the United States grew and the Medellin Cartel's operation expanded, Escobar and his crew moved from small planes like the Piper PA-18 super cub to massive cargo planes like the Douglas DC-6. Escobar's wealth and notoriety reached new heights in the 1980s.

The Medellin Cartel set up lucrative new smuggling routes in California, Puerto Rico, and Florida. Escobar was making so much money that he had to purchase a Learjet to move his money around. Expenses were piling up, but not enough to affect profit margins. The Cartel reportedly spent $1000 on rubber bands each week because there was so much cash.

Escobar continued to expand his narcotics empire by purchasing land on Norman's K. He bought the land with the help of criminal financer Robert Vesco and Medellin Cartel's co-founder, Carlos Lederer. Escobar then created a transhipment joint on the Bahamian Island. After purchasing the land, Escobar got to work, building a massive operation. He built a one-kilometre airstrip, a harbour, a hotel, and even a refrigerated warehouse to store all the Cartel's narcotics. The island quickly became an essential stopover on the Cartel's major smuggling routes, and profits reached all-time highs. 

At the height of its power, the Medellin Cartel was earning $70 million a day, that's $145 million adjusted for inflation. Escobar used the profits to purchase Hacienda Napoles in Antiquia. The lavish estate, valued at $2.23 million in 2006, included a Spanish colonial house, a sculpture park, and a zoo filled with exotic birds and animals.

When journalists questioned Escobar about his drug smuggling business, he remarked, "You bribe someone here. You bribe someone there. And you pay a friendly banker to help you bring the money back." His operations were no secret, but still, many in Colombia held Escobar in high regard. He attempted to cultivate a Robinhood-esque image by building housing projects and football fields. He helped the poor, but at the same time, Cartel related crimes were becoming rampant in Colombia. Escobar soon became the No. 1 target of law enforcement, both at home and abroad.

Pablo Escobar's Legacy, Rise & Fall

The Medellin Cartel's record profits continued in the early 1990s, but government officials in the United States and Colombia put more pressure on Escobar. Fearing extradition, Escobar agreed to turn himself in, but he had a list of demands.

In 1991, Colombian president – Cesar Gaviria negotiated an extremely controversial surrender treaty with Escobar. Escobar agreed to cease all criminal activity as long as he received a reduced sentence and preferential treatment while in prison. Escobar's incarceration was not a punishment, as he was locked in La Cathedral, a luxurious prison that Escobar designed himself. The facility included a nightclub, sauna, waterfall, and soccer field. There were also telephones, computers, and fax machines, so Escobar could communicate from behind bars.

However, violence soon broke out at La Cathedral, so Escobar had to be moved to a more secure prison. Unsurprisingly, Escobar escaped during the transfer, which led to a massive manhunt. The operation was run by the Colombian government and reportedly aided by US officials and rival drug traffickers.
Unfortunately, Escobar's Medellin hideout was discovered on December 2nd, 1993, by the search block. A chase and shootout ensued, and as Escobar tried to escape, he was cornered on the roof and fatally shot. The end of Escobar met the end of the Medellin Cartel, and the narcotics empire that Escobar started soon collapsed.

Alade Habeeb

I am a writer with a sense of creativity to write on multiple topics. I create engaging, thrilling and entertaining contents and I always take the time to edit my work well before publishing. I follow all the latest trends and read about recent happenings in the entertainment industry to always update my readers.

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