The czar of cocaine. The King of Medellin. The boss. Paisa Robin Hood. The most sought-after drug trafficker in the 1990s … But above all, the icon of the darkest Colombia turned on December 2, 1993, simply into a frightened fugitive, a belly-dead corpse, a middle-aged man and careless beard shot down by the Search Block on a low-floor Medellin roof.
With the rise of cocaine in the 1980s, Colombia soon became the capital of this drug, mainly due to the entrepreneurial effort of evil geniuses such as Pablo Escobar. The Colombian rose as “The Czar of cocaine” and is said to have accumulated the largest fortune in his country and one of the largest in the world, 9,000 million dollars that some sources increase up to 25,000.
For a time Escobar posed as an exemplary politician and entrepreneur, with a special penchant for helping people with less resources from Antioch. In his childhood neighborhood, La Paz, he built soccer fields and homes, while interacting with television characters and public figures. A humble man who the politicians of Bogota torpedoed and accused in an unfounded way, according to him, of being involved in drug trafficking. Evidently there was nothing unfounded in these accusations.
In 1983, a series of reports demolished the fragile facade of legality in which Escobar was hidden. The Congress, which at first showed a hesitant attitude, suppressed its parliamentary immunity and allowed the Justice to investigate thoroughly.
Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, Minister of Justice, stood out as the most energetic persecutor of the Medellin cartel, controlled by Escobar. He paid for it with his life. On April 30, 1984, Lara was assassinated on the orders of the drug traffickers, beginning a period that has gone down in history as “narcoterrorism”, where kidnappings, attacks and murders of businessmen, mayors, ministers, prosecutors and policemen became an everyday thing in Colombia.
In 1989, Escobar exploded a significant amount of dynamite near the building of the Administrative Department of Security (a group that worked for anti-terrorist police) with a total of 70 people killed in the attack. Likewise, “El Patrón” crashed an airplane of “Avianca” in the middle of the flight, believing that the candidate for the presidency César Gaviria, who had finally stayed ashore, was traveling there. That day 110 people lost their lives.
Faced with the inability to stop the “cocaine Czar”, Colombia accepted US aid, which added DEA agents to the war against drug trafficking, and was forced to negotiate with Pablo Escobar an unbalanced agreement to finalize the escalation of deaths. In exchange for not being extradited to the US, the capo agreed to enter prison, although it was built and directed by himself.
The agreement materialized on June 19, 1991, the day Pablo Escobar entered “La Catedral”, a building that had luxury rooms, a gym, a soccer field and several gaming halls. The press did not take long to echo the luxury life that the narco had brought in; reason why the Colombian government began to plan the way to transfer it to a real prison.
The final trigger was the murder inside the prison of Fernando Galeano and Gerardo Kiko Moncada, who administered the empire of Pablo abroad and who had made a show of wanting to do business on their own.
That he lived like a tsar or that people came and went through the passages of the “Cathedral” was an obscenity for Colombia; but that he committed murders in what should be his cell was already something inadmissible even for the country where magical realism was born.
President César Gaviria sent Eduardo Mendoza, deputy minister of Justice, and Colonel Hernando Navas Rubio, general director of Prisons of the Penitentiary Institute, to put an end to this absurdity and to transfer him to a real prison. However, Escobar took the two officials hostage while preparing his escape from the prison, now besieged by the army.
On July 21, 1992 Escobar and his men fled the prison through one of the back walls of it. In the midst of the fog, the capo and his henchmen faded into national opprobrium. It is suspected that it was not even a fast-paced, rather leisurely escape.
Here began the persecution of Pablo. A special unit, the Search Block, was formed, consisting of police, military and DEA agents to find the elusive drug trafficker. The planet wanted to capture him and the government offered five million dollars of reward. The surprise was that Medellin, where it remained enormously popular, did not seem interested in catching Robin Hood paisa.
On the contrary, many went in search of the other rewards, the Escobar cartel, which offered $ 10,000 to anyone who murdered a policeman, 33,000 who killed Colonel Martinez, head of the search unit, and 300,000 for each DEA agent killed. No doubt the capo could play his cards.
65 fighters were killed in their particular war against the State. Their fate began to change when the search block and Pepes (a paramilitary group financed mainly by the Cali Cartel and with links still unclear with the CIA and DEA) forced to live in constant flight and clandestine.
“We went hungry while we were surrounded by millions of dollars,” Sebastian Marroquín, the narco’s eldest son, said years later. The persecution to Escobar forced to him to move almost every week of house and seriously compromised its capacity to direct the empire of the cocaine world. The bombs of the wounded Narco The authorities assassinated until March of 1993 to 100 hired assassins and 10 military leaders of the Cartel.
In addition, the Pepes used tactics as brutal as those used by the drug traffickers to eliminate Pablo’s men, to destroy his laboratories and estates, and to neutralize his legal apparatus; that is, to take the life of your lawyer, your accountants and your employees. “In those days my father made constant reference to Salvatore Totò Riina, from whom he adapted his terrorist methods with car bombs used to confront each other.
When his desperate offer to return to prison in exchange for a small sentence and the dissolution of the Search Block was rejected, Pablo Escobar began a series of attacks, with more than 250 bombs exploded throughout the country as a result of retaliation.
Among these attacks was blatant due to its brutality on Saturday, 30 January 1993, when a Renault 9 car loaded with 100 kilos of dynamite was located a few blocks from the House of Nariño, Presidential seat. The resultant explosion destroyed some pipes and left a crater of 1.95 meters wide by 95 centimeters deep.
After a year raising to the last stone of Medellín, the Block of Search gave with the key to locate six calls that Escobar did to his son. He helped the advanced tracking technology available to this unit and, above all, the oversight of the Colombian narco in the last dates. With his head of security out of play and protected only by shallow hired assassins, Escobar ignored brevity in telephone conversations, his main life insurance in decades as a criminal.
Loneliness pushed him to compulsively call his family. He missed his wife and children and made more and more mistakes. On December 2, 1993, one day after having fulfilled 44, Escobar was cornered by the armed forces at a residence near the Obelisco shopping center in the west of the city.
An ABC correspondent Sebastián de Aristizábal reported that 500 soldiers and policemen surrounded the house and “the soldiers proceeded to break into the place where the capo and a bodyguard were found.” His most faithful man, Álvaro de Jesús Agudelo, alias “Limón” was shot down inside the humble dwelling.
His death allowed the drug trafficker to escape through one of the roofs of the house. There, Escobar received three shots. The puzzles opened on his death. The first shot came from the rifle of an agent that covered the later exit of the house. He received it when he tried to retrace his steps, on the roof, and was caught in the back of the shoulder by a bullet that lodged between teeth 35 and 36, according to the opinion of the forensic.
Probably the narco fell on the tile roof after this impact. A second shot, located in the left thigh, prevented him from rising again. Finally, the third and most controversial reached its head at close range (and this fact was later denied by the Search Block) and entered from the right side of the face, close to the ear, to exit on the left. The bullet killed him instantly.
But who pulled the trigger?
Theories are varied and contradictory. Escobar’s family continues to claim that, after receiving the first bullet, the drug trafficker committed suicide as he had always promised before he let himself be caught: “I will never be caught alive in the this fucking life”, it is heard in one of the recordings made by the Search Block. In any case, the official version barely manages to hide the dark fact that the last shot was almost an execution in charge of the Search Block.
Interviews later, Police Colonel Hugo Martínez Poveda, head of the Search Block in 1993, denied that a single-shot was fired when Escobar was already on the ground and backed the official version of the shots by one of his men , the sergeant Hugo Aguilar. Likewise, Martínez ruled out the participation of men from the DEA or other US security agencies in the operation because “they had orders not to intervene”.
The famous photograph of DEA agent Jack Steve next to the corpse occurred 15 minutes after the death of the capo, according to the military’s testimony. In this sense was speculated with the possibility that the shots by an expert shooter of the Delta Force.
In the text “Thus we kill the patron”, the extradited former paramilitary Diego Murillo Bejarano, alias Don Berna, says that this shot was carried out by his brother Rodolfo, alias Semilla. That is, they were a member of the Pepes who allegedly cornered and killed the narco.
At the time of his death, the cocaine Czar wore blue shirt and jeans and had no shoes; at his side he had a pistol. None of the guards who posed beside his body as a hunting trophy lost time in covering the naked and prominent belly of the body. Because in the end it turns out that the criminal myths also bleed and have beer belly.