It might have been 22 years since the death of Pablo Escobar on a rooftop in Medellín, but the memory of one of Colombia’s most notorious, and richest, men lives on.
Known as “The King of Cocaine” and head of one of Colombia’s most infamous groups, the Medellín Cartel, at the height of his career Escobar involved in smuggling 80 percent of the cocaine which entered the United States. Shot dead by Colombian national police, the bloated body of the one-time-kingpin was a sorry legacy for such a prolific kingpin, leaving behind a family forced to go into hiding and several hippos.
Cover is blown
“I cooked spaghetti that day with fried plantain slices, I left lunch ready for him.” Luz Maria Gaviria recalls, Escobar’s sister.
“I was in the car when I saw motorbike, cars, people with machine guns, and I asked the driver ‘What’s going on sir?” and he said “I think they’re going to get Pablito’ and that made me feel awful,” she adds.
Yet, that fateful December 2 Escobar signed his own death warrant: ringing his son enabled Colombian police to finally locate the druglord, hiding out in Medellín’s El Poblado neighborhood.
“Some of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agents took photos of the body and took a few hairs from his beard and moustache,” ex-Colonel Hugo Aguilar recounts at his book launch, documenting the police investigation and nationwide search for Escobar. The colonel was publicly threatened by Escobar, faced with the risk of torture, kidnap and even death.
22 years on
For members of Pablo’s immediate family, notably his son Sebastian Marroquín, finally revealing his identity has been no easy feat. Marroquín, a writer, faced thousands of mixed messages over his Facebook post commemorating his father’s death:
“I appreciate all the comments. The positive and negative ones, I respect them all. I respect the pain felt by each victim and I continue to ask for forgiveness for all the deplorable acts. My father sparked a lot of feelings and he did a lot – both good and bad – in his short lifetime (44 years).” Marroquín wrote on his page.
Escobar’s leading hitman, John Jairo Vélasquez, known as ‘Popeye’ took flowers to his ex-boss’ gravesite in Medellín. Popeye allegedly killed some 250 t0 300 people and was responsible for organizing some 3,000 murders. He completed almost 23 years in prison for his crimes.
The memory of Pablo Escobar is a stark reminder of one of Colombia’s bloodiest periods of history, when thousands of innocent individuals were caught in the crossfire between drug cartels and the country’s government.