A Photo and Its Story

Pablo Es­co­bar was the most pow­er­ful drug king­pin of all time— and one of the most ruth­less men in South Amer­ica: “El Pa­trón” was known for his cruel meth­ods of tor­ture, which claimed the lives of more than 3,000 peo­ple. But how would you feel if this infa

iD magazine - - Contents -

Fas­ci­nat­ing pic­tures and the story be­hind them

$1.5 MIL­LION— EVERY DAY

In the 1980s there were few peo­ple on the planet more pow­er­ful than Pablo Es­co­bar, aka “El Pa­trón.” The Colom­bian crim­i­nal con­trolled around 80% of the global co­caine trade. “There were times when my fa­ther made around $1.5 mil­lion per day,” says Juan Se­bastián Mar­ro­quín San­tos. All the money Es­co­bar raked in en­abled him to keep many se­cret lovers. Es­co­bar’s chil­dren, Juan and Manuela, may have had other sib­lings, but they didn’t know that dur­ing their child­hood. Rea­son: Once one of Es­co­bar’s lovers be­came preg­nant, he could eas­ily have her killed. Coldly and with­out mercy. Just as eas­ily as the boss of the Medel­lín Car­tel could have hun­dreds of po­lice­men, politicians, and pros­e­cu­tors killed. Lit­tle Juan knows noth­ing of this. For him this man is sim­ply a lov­ing fa­ther, the one who reads him his bed­time story at night…

13 YEARS OF LONE­LI­NESS

Juan Pablo Es­co­bar, as he was known be­fore his fa­ther’s death, can­not have visi­tors or even go to school. He spends his child­hood on the 8,650-acre Nápoles ranch near Bo­gotá. He is shielded from the out­side world by 50 round-the-clock body­guards. His fa­ther is rarely there. But his estate is equipped with features that ri­val those of an amuse­ment park: life-size stat­ues of di­nosaurs, swim­ming pools, ar­ti­fi­cial lakes, and even a pri­vate zoo. “Around me were gi­raffes, ele­phants, and hip­pos— yet I was al­ways alone. It was like be­ing in a gilded cage for 13 years,” re­calls San­tos. At first he sus­pects noth­ing of his fa­ther’s deal­ings. But later on, when the teenager he asks his fa­ther about the ru­mors on TV of in­volve­ment with drugs and mur­ders, Es­co­bar starts call­ing him “my 14- year- old paci­fist son.”

2 PHONE CALLS THAT CHANGE EV­ERY­THING

The con­ver­sa­tion takes just a few min­utes, then Pablo Es­co­bar hears a crackle in the phone line. He breaks off the con­nec­tion with his son, Juan. At this moment it’s clear to the drug lord that the po­lice have in­ter­cepted the call. Sec­onds later the spe­cial forces unit of Colom­bia’s po­lice storms the apart­ment. Es­co­bar only man­ages to make it to the rooftop ter­race, where his body is rid­dled with bul­lets on December 2, 1993. Shortly after the phone rings. It’s Juan. A calm fe­male voice tells him that his fa­ther is dead. The young man cries for min­utes. “For the coun­try, it was a gang­ster who died. For me— it was my fa­ther,” San­tos would later re­call. At that moment a new life be­gan for the 15-year- old.

3,000 SINS, ONE CON­SCIENCE

Even be­fore Es­co­bar’s death, the fam­ily had re­ceived death threats. Now many of the rel­a­tives of the more than 3,000 mur­der vic­tims want re­venge. San­tos and his sis­ter and mother are housed in a ho­tel and guarded by 50 po­lice of­fi­cers and soldiers 24 hours a day. Soon after all three change their names and ap­ply for asy­lum to al­most every coun­try in the world. Finally they se­cure a tourist visa for Ar­gentina, where they can re­main. Today San­tos, now 38, fears his fa­ther’s dif­fi­cult le­gacy above all else. To atone for his fa­ther’s crimes, he meets with the sons of two of Es­co­bar’s most prom­i­nent vic­tims. He asks for for­give­ness of the rel­a­tives of the more than 3,000 other vic­tims whom his fa­ther has on his con­science. San­tos seeks to com­pre­hend the suf­fer­ing of the peo­ple— and to ab­solve him­self of the sins of his fa­ther…

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