20 Crazy Facts About Lord Pablo Escobar You May Not Know

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Sep 22 2015
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Does the name Popeye Vásquez ring a bell? No, not the “Popeye the Sailorman” cartoon but “Popeye the Hitman” who admitted to killing about 300 people as the right-hand man to Pablo Escobar, the Colombian notorious drugs lord. Not only he killed so many people including his own girlfriend, Popeye also ordered the murder of at least 3,000 more.


Popeye started working for Escobar at the age of 18, arrested in 1992 and was sentenced to a 30-year prison but granted an early release in 2014 for good behaviour after serving 22 years. Interestingly, Popeye, now proclaims himself as a man of God, wanted to become a policeman but the job was too boring due to lack of guns, glamour and warships.

Popeye Vásquez - former Pablo Escobar Hitman

He then met up with childhood friend, Pinina, who was working for Escobar and was “taught how to work”. His first target was a bus conductor. He didn’t feel anything after the killing and didn’t have problem sleeping for thinking about dead people. Then, he learnt about dynamite, rocket and bomb and the Colombian government were brought to its knees.


Escobar, according to Popeye, was his idol and should the drugs lord born again, he would join him without hesitation. Everybody loved Escobar because he taught his followers to fight and gave them everything. Popeye claims Escobar was a professional businessman with a strategy and vision, which the current crop of Mexican drugs lords lack.

Popeye Vásquez and Pablo Escobar

Popeye Vásquez in Grey

So, what do you know about Pablo Escobar, the “King of Cocaine” who was the son of a poor Colombian farmer but by the time he was 35, he was one of the world’s wealthiest men who made it to the Forbes? Together with information shared by Popeye, here’re some facts about Pablo Escobar that you may not know.



{ 1 }  Born December 1, 1949 in the city of Rionegro, Colombia. Escobar’s father was a peasant farmer, his mother an elementary school teacher. As a teenager Escobar makes money by stealing tombstones, sandblast the names on it and sold them to smugglers in Panama for resale.

Pablo Escobar - Colombian Drugs Dealer - young photo



{ 2 }  From a young age, he already determined to be a millionaire by 22. He also wanted to become the President of Colombia. In the early 1970s, he worked as thief and bodyguard, not to mention stole cars, sold contraband cigarettes and fake lottery tickets. He even kidnapped a Medellin executive, earning US$100,000 in ransom.

Pablo Escobar - Colombian Drugs Dealer - Photo 1



{ 3 }  Escobar started building his cocaine empire in 1975. He got the local drug lord Fabio Restrepo murdered, took over his organization and expanded its operations. Escobar is said to have smuggled cocaine into aeroplane’s tires. Depending on how much product pilots flew, they could earn as much as US$500,000 every day.

Pablo Escobar - Smuggle Drugs Inside Aeroplane Tires



{ 4 }  Also known as “Don Pablo” and “El Patron”, initially Escobar would personally fly shipments between Colombia and Panama to smuggle into the United States. Later, he had a whole fleet of aeroplanes and helicopters, including a Learjet specifically for flying his cash. He also had two small remote controlled submarines to do the smuggling jobs.

Pablo Escobar - Stepping Down from Private Plane



{ 5 }  In 1976, Escobar was captured by Colombian authorities in possession of drugs. However he bribed the arresting officers and the case was thrown out. This marked the beginning of a policy throughout his reign: a paid cop turns a blind eye.

Pablo Escobar - Bribes Arresting Officers



{ 6 }  Those who couldn’t be bribed were killed. Escobar was said to be instrumental in the introduction of “plata o plomo” – silver or lead – which means “take this bribe or end up dead”. During the 1980s and 1990s, Popeye was the man Escobar would call to dish out “plomo” for refusing “plata”.

Pablo Escobar - plata o plomo - silver or lead



{ 7 }  Escobar was responsible for killing a Colombian presidential candidates Luis Carlos Galán, an attorney general, a justice minister, more than 200 judges, over 1000 police officers and dozens of journalists. In total, he was said to be responsible for more than 4,000 deaths. He even ordered Popeye Vásquez to kill his mistress – Wendy Chavarriga – for betrayal.

Pablo Escobar - kills Colombian Presidential Candidate Luis Carlos Galán



{ 8 }  By the end of 1980s, he supplied a staggering 80% of the world’s cocaine, hence earned him the “King of Cocaine” title. Therefore, about four out of five of Americans doing cocaine got their supplies from Escobar. It was like Escobar single-handedly running the Wall Street.

Pablo Escobar - The Cocaine King



{ 9 }  The demand for cocaine skyrocketed in the 1980s and at its peak, Escobar’s Medellín cartel smuggled 15 tonnes of cocaine per day to the United States, or about the weight of two African elephants. And he smuggled most of his cocaine straight over the Florida coast, with little problems.

Pablo Escobar - Cocaine and MoneyNote Roll



{ 10 }  In the 1980s alone, Escobar cartel brought in an estimated US$60 million every single day, or US$420 million a week, which totals almost US$22 billion every year. In comparison, Al Capone’s net worth was only at US$1.3 billion. Escobar is still the richest drug lords that his planet has ever produced.

Pablo Escobar - Stacks of MoneyNote



{ 11 }  Gaviria government, whom Escobar failed to assassinate, convinced him to surrender. In 1991, Escobar agreed to be imprisoned in a “self-designed” luxurious private prison which he named “La Catedral. He continued his criminal activities from within La Catedral which was equipped with a soccer field, barbecue pit, and patios. The Colombian authorities, amusingly,  were not allowed within 3 miles of his prison.

Pablo Escobar - La Catedral Prison



{ 12 }  As brutal as he was known, Escobar was also known as Colombian Robin Hood among the poor people. He spent millions on parks, schools, football stadiums, hospitals and churches in western Colombia. He distributed money to the poor through housing projects and other civic activities. In 1982, Escobar was even elected as a deputy representative to the House of Representatives of Colombia’s Congress.

Pablo Escobar - With Football Team



{ 13 }  Escobar was so rich that he made it into the Forbes’ list of international billionaires for seven years straight, from 1987 until 1993. As a matter of fact, he was listed as the seventh-richest man in the world in 1989 with net worth of about US$25 billion. Interestingly, Forbes published its first international billionaires compilation in 1987. If Forbes have had done it earlier, most likely Escobar would have made it too.

Pablo Escobar - Forbes Billionaire List



{ 14 }  The “King of Cocaine” made so much money that he has to write-off 10% of his annual income because “rats” ate US$2 billion of his profits – every year. His immense wealth became a problem because he couldn’t launder his cash faster than he earned it. It got so bad that he stashed piles of cash in dirty, rundown warehouses, in the walls of cartel members’ homes and whatnot.

Pablo Escobar - Rats Ate Money



{ 15 }  How much does it cost to buy rubber bands? Very little in the 1980s and 1990s. But his accountant said that Escobar spent US$2,500 a month on rubber bands just to tie together stacks of cash. It seemed besides having problem with too many cash, his empire also faced issue of neatly organising the banknotes.

Pablo Escobar - Rubber Bands Tie Stacks of Money Note



{ 16 }  Once, Escobar and his family were hiding at a farm in the mountains surrounding Medellín. The drugs kingpin burned US$2 million to keep his daughter, Manuela, warm from the cold weather.

Pablo Escobar - Family Members - Wife, Son, Daughter



{ 17 }  In the 1993 bombing of World Trade Center which killed 6 people and injured more than 1,000, the clueless New York prosecutors conveniently blamed Escobar’s Madellin cartel as one of many suspects. The drugs kingpin sent a handwritten note to the U.S. 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 - 1993 World Trade Center Bombing



{ 18 }  While Escobar wasn’t afraid of death, he was freaking scare of a little thing called “extradition” to the U.S. So, Pablo made an absolutely crazy offer to the Colombian government. In exchange for making extradition illegal and a full pardon, Pablo offered to payoff Colombia’s entire national debt, which at the time stood at slightly more than US$10 billion.

Pablo Escobar - Outside of White House with Son



{ 19 }   He married 15-year-old Maria Victoria Henao Vellejo in 1976, and they would later have two children – son Juan Pablo and daughter Manuela. However, Escobar had uncountable extramarital affairs. He tended to prefer underage girls. In spite of his insane affairs, he remained married to Maria Victoria until his death.

Pablo Escobar - former girlfriend Virginia Vallejo



{ 20 }  By late 1992, there were two organizations hunting for Pablo Escobar: the Search Bloc, a special US-trained Colombian task force, and “Los Pepes,” an organization of Escobar’s enemies. He was finally killed by the Search Bloc team on Dec 2, 1993. Before his death at the age of 44, he was the second richest man on planet Earth with an estimated fortune of US$30 billion.

Pablo Escobar - Potrait Carried by Mourners


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awesomeee…watched the tv series…”NARCOS”

Grammar note on point 6:
In his famous phrase “Plata o Plomo”, plata is an idiom that means money, not the actual metal and Plomo refers to bullets (which are originally made of lead covered with some other metal), so the literal translation would be something like: money or lead, but I guess it could be better translated as: “Dough or death” to keep the rhyme intended in the original spanish phrase.

Hands up if NARCOS brought you here!

Im from Germany and yes Narcos brought me here.
Alltough Escobar was a terrorist, he was an impressive and gentle personality. At least he supported the poor people.

Who can say he was a farmers son and made it in the FORBES list?

He achieved a lot.

so when he was #2 on the Forbes list who was #1?
Warren Buffet? too early to be Bill Gates right?

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