Who Was Pablo Escobar?
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, popularly referred to simply as Pablo Escobar, was perhaps the most infamous and powerful drug kingpin in the world until his death in 1993. Escobar was considered a narcoterrorist and a drug warlord, and headed the much-feared Medellin Cartel. Until his death on December 2, 1993, Escobar was among the richest people in the world, with a net worth of $30 billion USD, which translates to about $55 billion as of 2016. He was considered a brutal drug lord who would use violence to ensure he remained in power and controlled the illegal narcotics industry. He waged a bloody war against the government of Colombia, which led to the intervention of the United States and the formation of special police and military units tasked with stopping him.
The Death of Pablo Escobar
In 1989, Escobar dealt a bloody humiliation to the Colombian troops, forcing the then president Virgilio Barco to create a special police unit to hunt him down. With the help of the American CIA and DEA agents, the Bloque de Búsqueda (Search Block) unit was created and trained by US special forces. The unit was led by Colonel Horacio Carrillo and included members of the DEA. Colonel Carrillo led Search Block in several attempts to capture Pablo Escobar, although none were successful. He led the operations that killed Gustavo Gaviria and Rodriguez Gacha. However, Colonel Carillo was ambushed by members of the Medellin Cartel in the streets of Medellin as he led an operation to arrest Escobar, and Col. Hugo Martinez was appointed the new leader.
In January 1993, a new group joined the search for Pablo Escobar. The group was called Los Pepes and it consisted of rival drug cartels, paramilitaries, and members of the public who had been scorned by the Medellin cartel. The group was led by defected members of the Medellin Cartel who sought vengeance after Pablo killed several of his lieutenants. Unlike the Search Block, which had to operate within the law, Los Pepes were willing to cross legal and moral boundaries.
On December 2, 1993, one day after celebrating his birthday, Pablo called his son, unaware that Search Block had bugged his phone and were tracking his location. He was traced to the Los Olivos neighborhood, and Search Block team members surrounded his house. A team member positively identified Pablo. On realizing that his location was compromised, Pablo and a bodyguard tried to escape through the roof, but were shot by a hail of gunfire. A bullet went through Escobar's right ear, and he was killed on the spot.
Alternative Accounts of Escobar’s Death
Although the official report released by the government of Colombia indicates that the Search Block killed Escobar, other accounts contradict this report. Several reports claim Escobar was killed by Los Pepes after learning of his position by following Search Bloc. Another account advocated by his son states that Pablo Escobar killed himself after being corned by the police unit, as he had vowed not to be arrested alive and would rather kill himself. In 2006, Escobar's family got a court order to exhume his body. A bullet hole in his right ear suggests that he might have killed himself.