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Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar's ambition and ruthlessness made him one of the wealthiest, most powerful and most violent criminals of all time.
Frank Lucas - Superfly (3:10)
Juan Raul Garza, the first drug kingpin, made millions of dollars running drugs across "Marijuana Boulevard," the Gateway bridge linking Mexico and the U.S.
As Frank Lucas' drug trade grew he began to expand his look and personal wealth, dubbing himself Superfly after the 1970's blacksploitation film of the same name.
Griselda Blanco, "The Godmother," is suspected of scores of murders while transporting cocaine from Colombia to the United States.
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Pablo Escobar, born December 1, 1949, in Antioquia, Colombia, entered the cocaine trade in the early 1970s. He collaborated with other criminals to form the Medellin Cartel and eventually controlled over 80% of the cocaine shipped to the U.S. He earned popularity by sponsoring charity projects and soccer clubs, but later terror campaigns turned public opinion against him. He was killed in 1993.
"What is worth most in life are friends, of that I am sure. Unfortunately, along life's paths one also meets people who are disloyal."
"We will begin to go for the oligarchs and burn the houses of the rich ... This country is asking for peace ... so we have to apply much harder pressure."
"In Colombia, people enter [drug trafficking] as a form of protest. Others enter it because of ambition."
"I want to be big."
"Better a tomb in Colombia than a prison cell in the United States."
"We want peace. We have screamed out loud for it, but we cannot beg for it....We are ready to confront the traitors."
"There have been many accusations, but I've never been convicted of a crime in Colombia."
"[Terrorism is] the atomic bomb for poor people. It is the only way for the poor to strike back."
"At least now he is at rest."
"Vivá Colombia! We have just killed Pablo Escobar!"
Born in 1949, the son of a teacher and a peasant, Pablo Escobar's life of crime began at an early age. While he was still in school he stole tombstones and sold them to smugglers from Panama. In the early 1970s he entered the cocaine trade. His ambition and ruthlessness amid the cocaine trade would make him one of the wealthiest, most powerful and most violent criminals of all time.
Under his leadership, large amounts of coca paste were purchased in Bolivia and Peru, processed, and brought to the United States. Escobar collaborated with five or six other illegal entrepreneurs from the Medellin area, forming the infamous Medellin Cartel.
Escobar eventually controlled over 80% of the cocaine shipped to the U.S. He was named one of the ten richest people on earth by Fortune and Forbes magazines. But his rise to infamy cost the lives of three Colombian presidential candidates, an attorney general, a justice minister, more than 200 judges, dozens of journalists and more than 1,000 police officers.
In his last years, Escobar seems to have removed himself from direct involvement in drug trafficking. Instead, he siphoned off profits from cocaine dealers through a kind of taxation system he also imposed on other criminals operating within his area of influence. He considered the tax a compensation for his contribution to the development of the Colombian cocaine industry and his efforts to have the American-Colombian extradition treaty of 1979 nullified.
Escobar's rise to prominence among Colombian drug traffickers is said to have been attributed to personal characteristics, influential ties and a wise use of financial resources. To a large extent, Escobar's power rested on the purchased support of criminal groups that gave him a substantial capacity for the use of violence.Escobar invested his ill-gotten gains primarily in real estate, but he also acted as sponsor of charity projects and soccer clubs which earned him a certain degree of popularity and political standing, including a seat in parliament.
When the origin of his wealth became an issue of public debate, the U.S. increased pressure on Colombia to extradite him. Using terror, Escobar tried to influence Colombian politics towards a no-extradition clause and to grant amnesty to drug barons in exchange for giving up the drug trade. His terror campaign claimed the lives of politicians, civil servants, journalists and ordinary citizens. It turned public opinion against him and caused a break-up of the alliance of drug traffickers. After one year in prison, where Escobar had sought refuge from assassins, followed by several more months on the run, he was shot to death by members of a special police unit in 1993.
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