Netflix has done it again and created an absolute gem of a series. Its latest commission ‘Narcos’ focusses in on one of the world’s wealthiest ever criminals. At his peak in the early 1990’s the terrifyingly brutal Pablo Escobar was pulling in 66 million dollars a day! How did he achieve this staggering total I hear you ask… Well, this dude was the largest importer of cocaine into the US. At one point 80% of the coke consumed in the US came through Escobar’s drug channels. Four out of every five lines were his!
Pablo as a boy.
Escobar started from humble beginnings; nobody could have predicted this son of a peasant farmer would one day become the head of the world’s largest ever drug cartels. It would be safe to say that Pablo never had a moral compass… As a teenager he stole grave stones and sold them on to smugglers. But his first major money maker was kidnapping a Medellín executive and holding them ransom for $100,000. As I said, this man would do literally anything to make a buck.
Escobar was never afraid to get his hands dirty, especially at the beginning of his meteoric rise. He would personally fly over large shipments of cocaine between Colombia and Panama to smuggle into the United States. Pablo soon had a fleet of planes, including a lear jet!
Escobar reigned through fear
In 1976 he was arrested by Colombian authorities for possession of drugs. However, the case was quickly dropped after he greased a few palms. By the mid 1980’s Escobar had a huge proportion of the police force on his payroll. Those who chose not to sign on were more often than not met with a bullet. He was also renowned for taking out his fellow competitors. His main hit man John Jairo Velasquez estimated that he killed over 3,000 people in that decade alone.
He was literally rolling in it
To avoid detection the cocaine was made in ‘super labs’ deep in the Colombian jungle. To give you an idea of how much they were pumping out in a day it weighed approximately the same as two African elephants. That’s 15 tonnes… How much does that make you in a year? Two billion pounds!
He had so much money he had no idea what to do with it. In the end he resorted to stuffing it in barrels and digging huge holes in the ground to put it in. It’s believed that there are still loads of undiscovered cash hauls buried under Colombias soil. It’s also believed a huge proportion of his fortune was eaten by rats! His elastic band bill was $2,500 a year and he once burnt $2,000,000 on a fire to keep his daughter warm. Ridiculous!
One thing he loved to do with his cash was build…
Pablo built houses all over Columbia, many of which have now gone to ruin. The piece de resistance in his property empire was a 5,000 acre ranch in Puerto Triunofo. The utopia was built as a holiday getaway and included a pool, a bullring and a zoo housing hippos, giraffes and elephants.
When his past finally caught up with him in the early 90’s he went and built his own luxury jail…
After murdering thousands of people, including a presidential candidate, the government decided to take action against Escobar. His reaction was to wage war against them, putting huge bounties on the head of public figures and policemen. This ended in a stalemate and the Government agreed to drop all charges against Pablo, apart from a single trafficking offence. They also allowed him to build his own luxury prison for him to stay in for the duration of his sentence.
During his time inside Escobar discovered a plot to relocate him into a federal prison. His wide web of contacts allowed him to be ahead of the curve; he escaped and went on the run. Pablo avoided the authorities for a year until he was shot in a gun battle on a rooftop while trying to escape the police.
According to his brother, Pablo almost certainly committed suicide. “He did not get killed. During all the years they went after him, he would say to me every day that if he was really cornered without a way out, he would shoot himself through the ears.”
You may think that this monster would be horribly unpopular among the Colombian people. But there you would be wrong. He regularly distributed money to the poor and built many hospitals, schools and sports stadiums . He even provided housing to local communities to make sure nobody went homeless. To this day, many see Escobar as a Columbian Robin Hood.
The man tasked with playing this beast in this new netflix series ‘Narcos’ is Wagner Moura.
He gives a devastatingly good performance, as do his co-stars. The script and cinematography are awesome. I would fully recommend investing your time in this 80’s epic.