Drug Lords Serial Killers – What’s the Problem with Men?
Drug Lords Serial Killers
Drug Lords Serial Killers
Is Zack Morris a Serial Killer?
Roberto Escobar is a short, hunched man. He’s old now and nearly blind and deaf from a letter bomb blowing up in his face years ago. His eye sockets sink into his skull leaving two golf-ball-sized craters in his face. His gaze is lifeless. It passes through you, as if you were some sort of hologram.
Meeting Pablo Escobar’s brother turned out to be one of the more disappointing moments of my life. In Medellin, Colombia, you can go to Roberto’s house. In fact, there’s a whole tourism industry that’s sprouted up around Escobar and the old cartel. Much of this tourism is promoted and encouraged by the Escobar family themselves, as it’s (ostensibly) the only way they have to make much money these days.
The other visitors and I listen as Roberto dishes out stories about him and Pablo and the cartel, stories that he’s undoubtedly recited hundreds of times before. There’s an emptiness when he speaks. His Spanish tumbles out of his mouth in a monotonous slur, sometimes indecipherable. Sometimes when he speaks to you he reaches out and puts his hand on you, in the way a politician would, except the way he does it, there’s no emotion to it, no charisma. It’s as if he’s making sure you’re still there — that he’s still there.
There’s a small table on his porch stacked with assorted DVD’s, postcards, and, of course, his book. You can purchase them and then pay double for an autographed copy.1
He reminds us of this multiple times.
For the uninitiated (or those who don’t have Netflix), Roberto’s more famous brother, Pablo Escobar, was the leader of the Medellin Drug Cartel and likely both one of the richest and most violent drug dealers in human history. Beginning in 1975, Pablo built a multi-billion dollar empire by introducing the world to the wonders of cocaine. His smuggling would inspire the drug craze in the US of the late 70’s and early 80’s, the crime waves that followed in its wake, the crack epidemic, and ultimately the US government’s draconian War on Drugs policies which are still in effect today.
At his peak, Pablo’s power was incomprehensible. He literally bought his way into Colombian parliament by building entire neighborhoods for thousands of impoverished Colombians to gain their votes. In the 80’s, Forbes estimated him to be the seventh richest man in the world with a net worth of approximately $35 billion US dollars (that’s $81 billion in 2017 dollars.) In his book, Roberto claims that at one point the cartel was making so much money that it spent $2,500 each month just on rubber bands to stack the bills.
To maintain his power, Escobar was ruthless. He didn’t just use violence to punish foes, he used it to send a message. He once had a man skinned alive and then tied him to a tree to bleed to death in the hot Colombian sun. When the government threatened to extradite him to the US on drug charges, he exacted terrorist attacks on thousands of civilians as a form of blackmail. Parliament called an emergency session and amended their constitution to make extradition illegal, just so Escobar would stop bombing malls and busy intersections. During his reign, Pablo slaughtered judges, paid off entire prison staffs, flew in the best soccer players in the world to play with him on his ranch, and leading up to his demise, wrought full-blown urban warfare in the streets of Medellin, killing almost 500 police officers in the process.
Thirty minutes into our visit, I think to myself that Roberto Escobar might be the first person I’ve ever met who is a sociopath. In between regaling us with stories of Pablo’s smuggling heroics through Panama, and how he threatened to murder the families of any police who arrested him, he says he’s also willing to take pictures with us for a small fee. I’m not sure who I want to punch in the face more, him or the young American tourists who oblige and pay.
Drugs, money, violence, drugs, money, violence — the afternoon repeats itself. Desperate to be convinced this man has any sort of humanity at all, I ask him what his favorite memory of Pablo is. I want to at least sense some sort of emotion from this man, some level of depth beyond simple cost/benefit analysis of the living and dead.
He meanders into a vague story about the time he helped Pablo escape from prison. I press further, “Por qué esa memoria?” Why? Why that memory?
He replies, “It was the first and only time he told me I did a good job.” The only time? Roberto was Pablo’s accountant, his most trusted employee for almost 20 years. His own brother.That’s it?
Roberto’s anecdote contained a sliver of emotion, but I still get the blank stare, the empty eyes. So I keep pushing. “What about your childhood? What were you and Pablo like when you were kids?”
A pause. “We used to go fishing a lot.”
And we’re done. He turns around and reminds us that if we buy a DVD, the second one is half off.
Drug Lords Serial Killers