The Accountant's Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellín Cartel
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"I have many scars. Some of them are physical, but many more are scars on my soul. A bomb sent to kill me while I was in a maximum security prison has made me blind, yet now I see the world more clearly than I have ever seen it before. I have lived an incredible adventure. I watched as my brother, Pablo Escobar, became the most successful criminal in history, but also a hero to many of the people of Colombia. My brother was loved and he was feared. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in his funeral procession, and certainly as many people celebrated his death."
These are the words of Roberto Escobar-the top accountant for the notorious and deadly Medellín Cartel, and brother of Pablo Escobar, the most famous drug lord in history. At the height of his reign, Pablo's multibillion-dollar operation smuggled tons of cocaine each week into countries all over the world. Roberto and his ten accountants kept track of all the money. Only Pablo and Roberto knew where it was stashed-and what it bought.
And the amounts of money were simply staggering. According to Roberto, it cost $2,500 every month just to purchase the rubber bands needed to wrap the stacks of cash. The biggest problem was finding a place to store it: from secret compartments in walls and beneath swimming pools to banks and warehouses everywhere. There was so much money that Roberto would sometimes write off ten percent as "spoilage," meaning either rats had chewed up the bills or dampness had ruined the cash.
Roberto writes about the incredible violence of the cartel, but he also writes of the humanitarian side of his brother. Pablo built entire towns, gave away thousands of houses, paid people's medical expenses, and built schools and hospitals. Yet he was responsible for the horrible deaths of thousands of people.
In short, this is the story of a world of riches almost beyond mortal imagination, and in his own words, Roberto Escobar tells all: building a magnificent zoo at Pablo's opulent home, the brothers' many escapes into the jungles of Colombia, devising ingenious methods to smuggle tons of cocaine into the United States, bribing officials with literally millions of dollars-and building a personal army to protect the Escobar family against an array of enemies sworn to kill them.
Few men in history have been more beloved-or despised-than Pablo Escobar. Now, for the first time, his story is told by the man who knew him best: his brother, Roberto.
no knowledge of what was going on. The only problem was the very strong smell of the chemicals. Pablo was afraid the neighbors would complain to the police, so that’s when he decided to build his laboratory in the jungle. This was when the business really began to grow. At that time there was no way of imagining what it would become, what incredible riches he would earn. There was nothing to which it could be compared. The president of Colombia, Virgilio Barco, would later call it “a great and
instantly from any field: politics, entertainment, sports, crime, and the bizarre. But in our eat-’em-up media yesterday’s legends rapidly become tomorrow’s Dancing with the Stars contestants. But Pablo Escobar became a legend the old-fashioned way: He shot his way to the top of the charts. True legends, like that of Pablo Escobar, grow slowly through time and must be nurtured. The stories told about them have to continue to grow in scope and size until reality is simply too small to contain
business had all for many years been an accepted part of our economy. They employed many people, including police, military, and politicians. They brought money into the country. The violence in all these businesses—as I’ve mentioned, in the emeralds it has always been much worse than with drugs—was kept almost completely inside the business. So the government watched them, but didn’t try hard to end them. Now the United States wanted Colombia to solve the Americans’ drug problem—and our
Pablo hired a gang from Medellín to protect the people while they recovered. We had lost some of our men during our journey but again we had escaped the wave of police and soldiers searching for us. After we got better Pablo and I and a few of the top men like Otto moved back into the comforts of Medellín. Not too long after the walk through the jungle Pablo decided to change his whole security situation from a big number to only a few. Rather than moving with as many as thirty people, he used
people had reasons for wanting Galán dead. He campaigned hard against all the drug traffickers and promised that if he became president he would follow serious extradition policies. In Congress he had blocked a bill that would have banned extradition. So everyone in the drug business could not afford for him to win the election. The DAS said the mastermind of the assassination had been Gacha, who was killed four months later. Pablo was not named. Galán also promised to fight the left-wing