The Truth About Pablo Escobar's Death

For many, Pablo Escobar was a ruthless drug kingpin and a murderer. For others, he was a savior — a Robin Hood figure that stole from the rich and gave to the poor. As Crime+Investigation UK explains, opinions on Escobar are still divided. On one hand, he would brutally eliminate anyone who threatened him. On the other, Escobar donated to charity, built schools, and was overall liked by impoverished Columbians. Per CNN, his own son, Sebastián Marroquín, has stated that he has to live with "both truths." Nevertheless, Escobar was undoubtedly seen as an innovator as he ultimately changed the game for both drug traffickers and organized crime.

In 1991, Escobar surrendered himself to the Colombian government and built a luxury prison called "La Catedral" that came with a spa, casino, and nightclub (via Biography). He called it a "sacrifice for peace" (per NBC News). When authorities tried to move Escobar to a standard prison, he escaped, and a 16-month manhunt ensued. On December 2, 1993, Colombian troops stormed his hiding spot in a middle-class Medellin neighborhood. Escobar and his bodyguard fled to the rooftop, where he was fatally shot.

According to Insider, a bullet entered Escobar's right ear, killing him instantly. What no one is certain about, however, is who fired the shot that killed the wealthiest drug lord the world had seen. In the confusion and excitement, no one saw who pulled the trigger. Although many take responsibility for his death, the exact details still remain a mystery.

Pablo Escobar's life and crimes

Born in 1949, Britannica writes that Escobar came from humble beginnings. In his teens, he began committing petty theft, which included stealing stereos and tombstones. His crimes would eventually escalate to drug trafficking, and in 1975, Escobar formed what would later be known as the Medellín Cartel (via Biography). By 1980, InSight Crime reports that he supplied over 80% of cocaine sent to the U.S. This would make Escobar one of the world's richest men. Despite his immense wealth, he struggled to be accepted into Colombia's elite.

Escobar had always dreamt of being president and thought his money would give him political gain. When he realized that he had no chance, he sought revenge. Escobar ordered hits on journalists, judges, and political candidates. Associated Press reports that he even hired people to specifically target police officers. Amongst his worst crimes is the explosion of Avianca Flight 203 — 107 people on board died because Escobar believed a political rival was on the flight (per Noiser).

In addition, Escober had a presidential candidate that promised the extradition of drug traffickers to the U.S. assassinated. Escobar's biggest fear was reportedly dying "in an American jail cell" (via All That's Interesting), and he did everything in his power to prevent it from happening. Per StMU Research Scholars, he referred to his violent policy as "plata o ploma," which translates into "silver or lead." Ultimately, Escobar's bloodthirsty actions turned Medellín into the murder capital of the world.

Who killed Pablo Escobar?

In 1989, the Colombian government created the Search Bloc (a special police unit) to deal with Escobar and the cartel. With the help of the CIA, the DEA, and more, they hunted Escobar down with a hail of gunfire on a Medellin rooftop and officially became the party responsible for his death (via Insider). However, soon after, reports emerged that Escobar had fired the gun himself. His son, Sebastián Marroquín, backs this up in his book "Pablo Escobar: My Father." There, he details that his father told him he would shoot himself in his right ear to avoid being captured. Others, including Escobar's wife and mother, agree that the gunshot that caused his death was self-inflicted.

Los Pepes, a group made up of Escobar's rivals and enemies, also takes responsibility for his death. It is said that they, too, participated and accompanied the Search Bloc on the raid that killed Escobar. Although those details remain murky, a Los Pepes member claims to be the one who fired the shot with an M-16. Despite the overwhelming evidence that Los Pepes were working with the Search Bloc, nothing has ever been officially confirmed.

According to All That's Interesting, Escobar was shot in the legs and torso, but it was a shot in the ear that caused his death. That being said, it seems no one will ever truly know who killed Pablo Escobar, a man who was responsible for the death of over 1,000 police officers and whose net worth was at one time $30 billion (per Biography).