Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My life with the world's most infamous drug lord: Pablo Escobar's son reveals the heartbreak, fear of violence and how his father once burnt $2MILLION in cash to keep warm one night on the run

Pablo Escobar's son Sebastian Marroquin (pictured) has revealed his extraordinary childhood growing up on his father's sprawling estate in the Colombia countryside
It was the home that every little boy dreams of.
With an extensive go-kart race track, massive swimming pools and even a private zoo housing millions of dollars worth of rare and exotic animals, the seven square miles of land in the Colombian countryside that made up the Naples Estate may have looked like the ideal place to grow up.
But for a young Sebastian Marroquin, it was also a place of fear - and not just because of the escaped hippopotamus that live feral in the rivers and lakes surrounding the grounds to this day.
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Pablo Escobar, seen right with his son Sebastian Marroquin
Pablo Escobar's son Sebastian Marroquin (left) has revealed his extraordinary childhood growing up on his father's sprawling estate in the Colombia countryside. The pair are pictured together in Sebastian's youth
Escobar's sprawling Naples Estate (pictured in 1988) featured fleets of vintage cars, house servants, swimming pools
Escobar's sprawling Naples Estate (pictured in 1988) featured fleets of vintage cars, house servants, swimming pools
Instead the main reason for youngster's fear was for the safety of his billionaire crime baron father Pablo Escobar - at the time the world's most wanted drug lord - who was engaged in a long and bloody war with both rival cocaine trafficking gangs and the Colombian state.
Marroquin, now 38, grew up in an era when his father was ranked the 7th richest man in the world by Forbes magazine with an estimated £18billion fortune.
With the money came extraordinary excess - particularly within the plush surrounds of the Naples Estate.
Marroquin, who changed his name from Juan Pablo Escobar, has recalled how the sprawling estate featured fleets of vintage cars, house servants, swimming pools and the bizarre sight of exotic animals - including elephants - bought at huge expense by his father. 
Colombian drug lord Escobar committed suicide, claims son
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Marroquin, now 38, grew up in an era when his father (pictured) was ranked the 7th richest man in the world by Forbes magazine with an estimated £18billion fortune
Marroquin, now 38, grew up in an era when his father (pictured) was ranked the 7th richest man in the world by Forbes magazine with an estimated £18billion fortune
The mansion featured a private zoo with exotic animals - including elephants - bought at huge expense by his father
The mansion featured a private zoo with exotic animals - including elephants - bought at huge expense by his father
This 2006 picture shows a now abandoned bull ring  at the Naples Estate, the favored recreation home of Pablo Escobar
This 2006 picture shows a now abandoned bull ring at the Naples Estate, the favored recreation home of Pablo Escobar
Further details of the incredible riches he witnessed as a child were revealed in his book 'Pablo Escobar: My Father'.
The autobiography, which went on to become a best seller in Latin America, revealed details of wild parties where piƱatas were stuffed full of tens of thousands of dollars in cash.
Helicopters were reportedly sent out to collect particular fast food demands by children at the house while the crumbling remains of Escobar's estate include a private bullfighting ring and airstrip.
But along with this fantasy world, Marroquin has recalled stories of betrayal and death and of Escobar's erratic behaviour.

ESCOBAR: 'THE KING OF COCAINE'

Trafficker: Pablo Escobar was worth $30billion
Trafficker: Pablo Escobar was worth $30billion
Born in 1949, Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria started his criminal career on the streets of Medellin in Colombia as a teenager, selling contraband cigarettes and stealing cars.
When he was gunned down by Colombian National Police on December 2 1993 he was one of the wealthiest criminals in history, worth a staggering $30billion.
After working for a short time as a bodyguard in the early 1970s Escobar moved on to cocaine trafficking. His operation became so successful that he was able to buy 15 planes and six helicopters to help smuggle the drugs, mainly to the United States.
Escobar amassed so much cash that he had to spend around $2500 a month on rubber bands to keep the piles of notes neatly stacked.
His Medellin Cartel inevitably attracted the attention of the authorities, but Escobar dealt with them mercilessly. He either bribed them or had them assassinated, which is where the likes of John Jairo Velasquez came in.
Escobar was eventually gunned down in 1993 by Colombian police, who found him in a middle-class home in Medellin, with the help of U.S special forces, after a 15-month-long investigation.
He was shot while trying to escape across nearby roofs with his bodyguard, Alvaro de Jesus Agudelo, who was also shot and killed. 
In the past, he has told how his drug lord father burnt more than £1million to keep his daughter warm during a single night on the run.
He said the cocaine baron lit a bonfire using wads of U.S. dollars at a mountain hideout while he was being hunted by authorities fearing his daughter Manuela was suffering from hypothermia. 
They also used the fire, fuelled using $2million dollars (£1.2million) to prepare food, he claimed in an interview with the Colombian magazine 'Don Juan' in 2009.
At the time, he also revealed that a security-mad Escobar even bought his own taxi firm to find out when outsiders arrived in their native Medillin.
Marroquin said he and his family were moved every two days between 15 hideaways he had all over the city.
He even blindfolded them before each move so that they could never work out the whereabouts of each house and give the locations to torturers if they were captured, Marroquin claimed in the interview. 
Last year he told how he was just nine when he got his first lesson in drugs from his father.
Escobar told him he had tried every drug there was except heroin, and urged his young son never to use them - or to follow in his footsteps.
'My father's not a person to be imitated. He showed us the path we must never take as a society because it's the path to self-destruction, the loss of values and a place where life ceases to have importance,' Marroquin said.
In the interview with AFP in November, he said he decided to write his autobiography to tell the story of his youth from his own perspective. 
'I had the strange privilege of being Pablo Escobar's son. To me he was a great father. I have thousands of letters he wrote me giving me advice... encouraging me to get an education, be a good person, stay away from drugs.'
But even these stories of fatherly protectiveness contain threads of Escobar's trademark violence.
'My father even threatened to kill his employees if they so much as smoked a joint in front of me,' he said. 
In an interview with the Independent this week, he revealed that when he was 11, a car bomb planted by a rival drugs cartel ripped through one of their apartments in Medellin.
It prompted him and his mother to plead with Escobar to bring the violence to an end - but to no avail.
'My mother and I begged him many times to abandon the violence, but he had reached the point of no return.'
Marroquin says he became aware of his father's notoriety as the biggest drugs baron on the planet in 1984 at the age of seven. 
It was the same year that Escobar assassinated one of his biggest critics in the Colombian government, Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara.
He told Deutsche Welle in a recent interview that it soon became clear his father 'wasn't the officer worker I thought, even if he didn't follow the conventional office schedule.' 
While an enemy of the U.S. and Colombian governments, he was a hero to many in Medellin where he distributed money to the poor.
While an enemy of the U.S. and Colombian governments, he was a hero to many in Medellin (pictured) where he distributed money to the poor.
While an enemy of the U.S. and Colombian governments, he was a hero to many in Medellin (pictured) where he distributed money to the poor.
By 2004, this was the view of  the once luxurious swimming pool area at the ranch 'Napoles'  built by  Pablo Escobar in the 1980s
By 2004, this was the view of  the once luxurious swimming pool area at the ranch 'Napoles' built by Pablo Escobar in the 1980s
His son has revealed how the billionaire built football fields so the children in poor neighbourhoods would stay away from drugs - while funding the outreach projects with cash from huge drug deals.
By 1989, at the height of his power, Escobar was selling 80 per cent of the world's cocaine, had bombed government targets and was believed to have killed thousands. 
But it all came to an end in December 1993 when the head of the infamous Medellin Cartel was gunned down on the roof of a two-storey house as he tried to elude the Search Bloc, a special police unit established to lead the manhunt.
My father even threatened to kill his employees if they so much as smoked a joint in front of me 
By that time, ‘The King of Cocaine’ and other members of the cartel had become the world’s most wanted drug traffickers.
Marroquin maintains his father was not killed by police in the gunfight, but rather took his own life by shooting himself in the head.
'I have no doubt' he planned his death, he said in November - though he added he was publishing his version of the story because he had evidence to support it, not to show his father as 'a hero or martyr.' 
His book also delves into Escobar's betrayal by his own family, including his brother Roberto, who became an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
He said nothing was left of his father's fortune. Escobar's enemies - 'including people who had once been his friends' - claimed it as plunder after his death, he said.
But 'I'm grateful that happened,' Marroquin added. 'We started over again.' 
Escobar kept references to his drug smuggling life  throughout his estate - including a plane he used to transport his illegal hoard. Colombian police are pictured at the entrance to the property in 2012
Escobar kept references to his drug smuggling life throughout his estate - including a plane he used to transport his illegal hoard. Colombian police are pictured at the entrance to the property in 2012
Details of the incredible riches Sebastian Marroquin (pictured) witnessed as a child were revealed in a book called 'Pablo Escobar: My Father'
Details of the incredible riches Sebastian Marroquin witnessed as a child were revealed in a book called 'Pablo Escobar: My Father' (pictured)
Details of the incredible riches Sebastian Marroquin (left) witnessed as a child were revealed in a book called 'Pablo Escobar: My Father' (right)
In another of his interviews, Marroquin revealed how he fled Colombia for Argentina with his family at the age of 17 after Escobar's death before taking his current name.
Describing the confusion he felt at the time, he told Deutsche Welle: 'I reacted violently and threatened the country. I regretted these threats ten minutes later, when I became aware of the consequences of acting on them. I also realised that with my father now dead, I could be the next in line.'
More recently, Marroquin spoke of his father again ahead of the first screening of 'Narcos' the Netflix series about his cartel boss father.
In an email to Associated Press, he questioned how accurate the Netflix depiction would be.
'I'm not very convinced by stories sold as truthful that use my father's name without authorization and purposefully ignore the main keepers of his memories: his family,' he said. 
Since vowing never to follow in Escobar's footsteps, Marroquin has travelled Latin America giving anti-violence talks and pushing for drug policy reform. He recently said his father was 'very far from being a hero'. 
Marroquin, who studied architecture, said he was proud he had avoided becoming 'a deadlier version' of his father.
'I could have become Pablo Escobar 2.0, but I became an architect, a designer, a lecturer and now a writer,' he said.
'I've had thousands of chances to get into illicit business. But I always said no to them because I learned my lesson about drug trafficking... a very good, very lucrative business that ends in destruction.'

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