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The Hainan Island incident occurred on April 1, 2001, when a United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals intelligence aircraft and a Chinese J-8II interceptor jet collided in mid-air, resulting in an international dispute between the United States and China (PRC).

The EP-3 was operating about 70 miles (110 km) away from the PRC island province of Hainan, as well as about 100 miles (160 km) away from the China military installation in the Paracel Islands, when it was intercepted by two J-8 fighters. A collision between the EP-3 and one of the J-8s caused a PRC pilot to go missing (later presumed dead); the EP-3 was forced to make an emergency landing on Hainan without approved permission from the Chinese authorities.

The 24 crew members were detained and interrogated by Chinese authorities until a statement was delivered by the United States government regarding the incident. The exact phrasing of this document was intentionally ambiguous and allowed both countries to save face while defusing a potentially volatile situation between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.


This sea area includes the South China Sea Islands, which are claimed by the PRC and several other countries. It is one of the most strategically sensitive areas in the world. The United States and the People’s Republic of China disagree on the legality of the overflights by U.S. naval aircraft of the area where the incident occurred. This part of the South China Sea comprises part of the PRC’s exclusive economic zone based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Chinese claim that the Paracel Islands belong to China.

A PRC Sukhoi Su-27

A PRC Sukhoi Su-27 force is based at Hainan. The island also houses a large signals intelligence facility that tracks civil and military activity in the area and monitors traffic from commercial communications satellites. The United States has long kept the island under surveillance.

In the air

On April 1, 2001, the EP-3 (BuNo 156511), assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1, “World Watchers”), had taken off as Mission PR32 from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. At about 9:15 a.m. local time, toward the end of the EP-3’s six-hour ELINT mission, it was flying at 22,000 feet (6,700 m) and 180 knots (210 mph; 330 km/h), on a heading of 110°, about 70 miles (110 km) away from the island.

Two Chinese J-8s from Hainan’s Lingshui airfield approached. One of the J-8s (81194), piloted by Lt. Cdr. Wang Wei, made two close passes to the EP-3. On the third pass, it collided with the larger aircraft. The J-8 broke into two pieces; the EP-3’s radome detached completely and its No. 1 (outer left) propeller was damaged severely. Airspeed and altitude data were lost, the aircraft depressurized, and an antenna became wrapped around the tailplane. The J-8’s tail fin struck the EP-3’s left aileron, forcing it fully upright, and causing the U.S. aircraft to roll to the left at three to four times its normal maximum rate.

The impact sent the EP-3 into a 30° dive at a bank angle of 130°, almost inverted. It dropped 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in 30 seconds, and fell another 6,000 feet (1,800 m) before the pilot, Lt. Shane Osborn, got the EP-3’s wings level and the nose up. He then managed to control the aircraft’s descent by using emergency power on the working engines, allowing him to plan an emergency landing on Hainan.

A United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals intelligence aircraft

For the next 26 minutes, the crew of the EP-3 performed an emergency plan which included destroying sensitive items aboard the aircraft, such as electronic equipment related to intelligence-gathering, documents and data. Part of this plan involved pouring freshly brewed coffee into disk drives and motherboards and using an axe from the plane’s survival kit to destroy hard drives.

The EP-3 made an unauthorized emergency landing at Lingshui airfield, after at least 15 distress signals had gone unanswered, with the emergency code selected on the transponder. It landed at 170 knots (200 mph; 310 km/h), with no flaps, no trim, and a damaged left elevator, weighing 108,000 pounds (49,000 kg). The surviving Chinese interceptor had landed there 10 minutes earlier.

Wang was seen to eject after the collision, but the Pentagon said that the damage to the underside of the EP-3 could mean that the cockpit of the Chinese fighter jet was crushed, making it impossible for the pilot to survive. Wang’s body was never recovered, and he was presumed dead.

Cause of collision

Both the cause of the collision and the assignment of blame were disputed. The U.S. government stated that the Chinese jet bumped the wing of the larger, slower, and less maneuverable EP-3. After returning to U.S. soil, the pilot of the EP-3, Lt. Shane Osborn, was allowed to make a brief statement in which he said that the EP-3 was on autopilot and in straight-and-level flight at the time of the collision.

Based on the account of Wang Wei’s wingman, the Chinese government stated that the American aircraft “veered at a wide angle towards the Chinese”, in the process ramming the J-8. This claim cannot be verified since the Chinese government did not release data from the flight recorders of either aircraft, both of which are in its possession.

On the ground

The US Aircraft that was involved in the China faceoff

For 15 minutes after landing, the EP-3 crew continued to destroy sensitive items and data on board the aircraft, as per protocol. They disembarked from the aircraft after soldiers looked through windows, pointed guns, and shouted through bullhorns. The Chinese offered them water and cigarettes. Guarded closely, they were taken to a military barracks at Lingshui where they were interrogated for two nights before being moved to lodgings in Haikou, the provincial capital and largest city on the island. They were generally treated well, but were interrogated at all hours, and so suffered from lack of sleep.

Three U.S. diplomats were sent to Hainan to meet the crew and assess their conditions, and to negotiate their release. They were first allowed to meet with the crew three days after the collision. U.S. officials complained about the slow pace of the Chinese decision.

The 24 crew members (21 men and 3 women) were detained for 10 days in total, and were released soon after the U.S. issued the “letter of the two sorries” to the Chinese. The crew was only partially successful in their destruction of classified material, and some of the material they failed to destroy included cryptographic keys, signals intelligence manuals, and the names of National Security Agency employees.

Some of the captured computers contained detailed information for processing PROFORMA communications from North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, China and other countries. The plane also carried information on the emitter parameters for U.S.-allied radar systems worldwide. The fact that the United States could track People’s Liberation Army Navy submarines via signal transmission was also revealed to China.

Letter of the two sorries

The “Letter of the two sorries” was the letter delivered by the United States Ambassador Joseph Prueher to Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan of the People’s Republic of China to end the incident. The delivery of the letter resulted in the release of the U.S. crew from Chinese custody, as well as the eventual return of the disassembled aircraft.

Fighter pilot Wang Wei was killed because his parachute did not open in time as he tried to escape his aircraft, according to military sources. Photo: Baidu

The letter stated that the United States was “very sorry” for the death of Chinese pilot Wang Wei (王伟), and was “very sorry” the aircraft entered China’s airspace and that its landing did not have “verbal clearance”.

The United States stated that it was “not a letter of apology”, as some state-owned Chinese media outlets characterized it at the time, but “an expression of regret and sorrow”. China had originally asked for an apology, but the U.S. explained, “We did not do anything wrong, and therefore it was not possible to apologize”.

There was further debate over the exact meaning of the Chinese translation issued by the U.S. Embassy. A senior administration official was quoted as saying “What the Chinese will choose to characterize as an apology, we would probably choose to characterize as an expression of regret or sorrow”.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin accepted the expression of “very sorry” as consistent with the formal apology it had sought and released the Americans thereafter.


The crew of the EP-3 was released on April 11, 2001, and returned to their base at Whidbey Island via Honolulu, Hawaii, where they were subject to two days of intense debriefings, followed by a heroes’ welcome. The pilot, Lt. Shane Osborn, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “heroism and extraordinary achievement” in flight. The J-8B pilot, Wang Wei, was posthumously honored in China as a “Guardian of Territorial Airspace and Waters”. His widow received a personal letter of condolence from President George W. Bush.

The EP-3 crew arrives at Hickam AFB in Hawaii. Pictured saluting is U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Curtis Towne.

Source: Wikipedia

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The incredible story of Pablo Escobar was one filled with Hippos, Learjets, and Designer Prisons.

There are famous criminals. and then there are those whose crime turned into a full-blown empire. This was the story of drug king Pablo Escobar, a man that had managed to build a movie-like cartel and escape the authorities for more than three decades, turning into a highly-controversial legend. 

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 23: A bottle of anti-depressant pills named Paxil are shown March 23, 2004 photographed in Miami, Florida. The Food and Drug Administration asked makers of popular anti-depressants to add or strengthen suicide-related warnings on their labels as well as the possibility of worsening depression especially at the beginning of treatment or when the doses are increased or decreased.  (Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Colombian National Police Public domain

By the time he was 20, he was dabbling in small-time crime to supplement his income. By his 30th birthday, he was the kingpin of one of the most notorious drug-trafficking cartels the world has ever known. This is the amazing and bloody life story of Pablo Escobar.

Getting Started

Escobar was born in December 1949, to a farmer father and a school teacher mother. The third child of seven, Pablo and his family grew up in poverty in the city of Medellin. He began his criminal enterprises young by stealing tombstones, sanding down their inscriptions, and reselling them. He also arranged fake high school diplomas and sold contraband cigarettes and fake lottery tickets. Soon enough, Escobar’s crimes escalated from petty—to violent.

MIAMI - MARCH 30:  Menthol cigarettes are seen for sale on a shelf at a Quick Stop store on March 30, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  Today in Washington, DC a public hearing began before a committee of outside experts that advises the Food and Drug Administration as they weigh the evidence of menthol

As a youth, Pablo performed armed robberies of banks in Medellín before dropping out of school and joining a gang. They would take cars, sometimes right in front of the drivers during the day, and quickly break them down into valuable parts, selling them for a lot of money. With the money they bribed local officials to give them new documents for the stolen cars, so he didn’t have to take them apart anymore.

Robin Hood Killer

One of the most famous incidents connected to young Pablo was attributed to the case of Diego Echavarria, a rich factory owner in Envigado, during the summer of 1971. Diego Echavarria was a respected man in wealthy social circles, but many poor workers in Medellín didn’t like him. This was because lots of them were losing their jobs in the local textile mills.

Diego Echavarria and his familt/Imgur

Also at that time, rich landowners in Antioquia were taking over land along the Magdelena River valley, and entire villages of farmers were evicted to the city’s slums. The unpopular factory owner was found dead in a hole not far from where Pablo was born. He was kidnapped six weeks earlier, and even though his family had paid a $50,000 ransom to get him back, he had been beaten and strangled to death.

Underage Bride

Maria Victoria Henao was just 15 years old when she married Pablo Escobar, a fully grown 27-year-old man. She was also, as far as her parents were concerned, a step or two above him on the social ladder. They may not have been worried by the age gap, but they certainly didn’t approve of the socio-economic difference.

A US one hundred dollar bill with Benjamin Franklin is seen amongst other bills in New York on Friday, February 19, 2016. The U.S. Treasury Dept. is proposing phasing out the $100 bill because the larger bills are

Of course, their daughter growing up with a lack of money was not something the Henao family ever really needed to worry about, but perhaps some other things that would come to trouble them instead. Pablo and Maria went on to have two children together; a son named Juan and a daughter they called Manuela.

His Biggest Supporter

Pablo Escobar’s wife Maria stood by him in everything he did. So much so, it was believed members of rival carters would seek to obtain recordings of Maria and Pablo talking so they could play them for their wives. The intention was to show their own wives how they would like them to behave, which was no doubt well received by all.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 28: Crowds gather in Paris to welcome the riders in the 21st and final stage of the 2019 Tour de France on July 28, 2019 in Paris, France. Columbian Egan Bernal of Team Ineos is the first Columbian to win the Tour and at the age of 22, is the youngest winner for 110 years in the 100th year of the Maillot Jaune or Yellow Jersey. (Photo by Kiran Ridley/Getty Images)

It’s believed this supportive attitude from Maria contributed to the other cartels choosing not to try and kill her and her two children. Maria did have one preference for Pablo’s behavior, however; she encouraged him to avoid violence where possible.

Grim Unicorn

Like many young girls, Manuela Escobar once asked her loving father for a horse. However, it wasn’t a simple pony on this hopeful daughter’s wish list, she wanted a unicorn. A simple matter of those creatures not existing wasn’t going to stop Pablo Escobar’s little girl from getting what she’d asked for.

CAMAJUANI, VILLA CLARA, CUBA - 2019/03/19: An unicorn which is part of the

Escobar brought in a horse and had a cone stapled to its head. He also had wings stapled to the animal for good measure. Amazing for Manuela, not so much for her horse. Not only must it have been in severe pain at the time, it later developed an infection and died.

My Life and My Prison With Pablo Escobar

However, if Maria was Escobar’s biggest supporter, it was not always the case the other way around. In fact, the now 57-year-old widow was only 12 when she fell in love with the drug baron and didn’t know what was expecting her when she married him two years later.

ANGOLA, LA - APRIL 23:  An inmate holds onto a fence during the Angola Prison Rodeo at the Louisiana State Penitentiary April 23, 2006 in Angola, Louisiana. The Angola Prison Rodeo, opened in 1965, is the longest running prison rodeo in the nation. The 10,000 seat arena was built entirely by inmate labor. The prison holds approximately 5,000 male inmates, 68 percent of whom are serving life sentences.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In her memoir My Life and My Prison With Pablo Escobar, she opens up about her marriage and moments of intimacy with the worldwide criminal and recalls a traumatic event from when she was only 14 years old. Escobar caused her to abort her baby, forcing her to lie down in an insalubrious clinic while a woman was placing plastic tubes into her womb.


And Pablo Escobar wasn’t always the most faithful husband as well. In 2007, the Colombian journalist and author Virginia Vallejo wrote a memoir titled Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar (Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar) in which she detailed a romantic relationship with the cartel leader.

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 26:  Psychologist Alejandra Vallejo Nagera presents

Similarly, the “Queen of Narco-Trafficking”, Griselda Blanco, who helped distribute the cartel’s products, may also have had romantic connections to the famed criminal, and wrote a diary in which she referred to Escobar in the endearing yet quite scary nicknames of “Coque de Mi Rey” (My Coke King) and “Polla Blanca”.

Plan A and Plan B

Pablo didn’t only stray from his relationship with his wife, but he also ignored her advice for than once. Maria tried to persuade her husband against violence but, like many husbands, he didn’t always listen to his wife’s advice. When arrested for possession of 39 pounds of cocaine in 1976, Escobar dabbed in taking the non-violent road and offered the judge a bribe.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Drug users prepare cocaine before injecting, inside of a Safe Consumption van set up by Peter Krykant on September 25, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. Peter a recovering heroin addict and former drugs worker, has set up the drug consumption van where addicts can inject safely and take drugs under supervision. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

When his buy-off attempt was rejected, however, Escobar chose to have the arresting officers murdered rather than take his punishment. This proved to be horrifyingly effective for him, and it was a tactic Escobar would become well known for in his career.

Body Count

In fact, by the time he died, Pablo Escobar had something of a large body count. Though he continued to employ bribery when it was appropriate, Escobar understood violence and murder were often the most efficient way to get the results he wanted.

NAPLE, NAPLES, CAMPANIA, ITALY - 2021/03/15: (EDITORS NOTE: Image depicts death.) The body of Antonio Volpe, Camorra boss, was killed with gunshots in via Leopardi in the Fuorigrotta district. (Photo by Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images)

More than 4000 people are believed to have been killed at the hand, or by the order of, the King of Cocaine. Around a quarter of these were public officials, including police officers, journalists, and government workers. Judges were particularly targeted by Escobar; over 200 are believed to have been included in his tally of murders.

Big Business

At the height of his operations, Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel were so successful it was believed four in every five lines of cocaine consumed around the world had come through their hands. Escobar himself was believed to be earning $21.9 billion a year. No other criminal has ever earned this much money.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 22:  A South Korean banker carries US dollar bank notes at the Korea Exchange bank on February 22, 2005 in Seoul, South Korea. The South Korean won jumped to its highest intraday level in more than seven years in domestic trade on Tuesday, boosted by strong foreign equity buying and exporter deals. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Chung Sung-Jun/GettyImages

To put this into context, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk today earns around $2.2 billion a year. Of course, the drug trade is a much shorter and less secure career than the electric car industry but, even taking this into account, it’s fair to say Pablo Escobar was phenomenally successful.

Unusual Expenses

Pablo Escobar worked in a cash industry and, like Walter White’s storage locker in Breaking Bad, it meant he had some unusual problems he needed to solve. Fortunately, he could afford the solutions, and put his impressive finances and criminal mind to work, with rather interesting results. 

A Gates Learjet 25 executive jet on the tarmac at the Farnborough Air Show, 1st September 1974. (Photo by George W. Hales/Peter King/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Fox Photos/GettyImages

Escobar had so many notes to keep in order that, at one stage, it was estimated Escobar was spending $2500 every month on rubber bands. Transportation was an issue too. Escobar found buying a private Learjet was the most efficient way to move his mountains of cash from one place to another.

Wheels of Commerce

Aviation was an important part of Pablo Escobar’s business in general. Constantly searching for efficient and undetectable ways to move contraband products across long distances and international borders, Escobar and the cartel discovered a new place to store their checked baggage.

396531 05: A U.S. Navy Landing Signal Officer (LSO) helps land an F/A-18
U.S. Navy/GettyImages

Distribution teams would fill plane tires with bricks of cocaine before a flight’s departure. These would then be removed and emptied by a team at the destination, and the product moved on for local distribution. It’s understood this tactic was worth around $50,000 a day to the cartel.

Elected Official

It might seem strange to see a career criminal in an official government position, but that’s exactly what happened to Pablo Escobar. In 1982, with plenty of help from, his vast fortune, Escobar won the election to the Chamber of Representatives as part of the Liberal Alternative movement.

WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 05:  The U.S. Supreme Court is shown February 5, 2009 in Washington, DC. It was announced today that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had surgery after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/GettyImages

This high-profile side-job had brought with it several important advantages. Most importantly, it granted the cartel leader a diplomatic visa and judicial immunity. It also made him responsible for community projects such as creating football fields and building houses, this improved his image amongst the Colombian public a great deal.

Los Extraditables

“We prefer a grave in Colombia to a prison in the United States,” was the motto of Los Extraditables, a group of Colombian drug lords in the 1980s, of whom Pablo Escobar was one. These individuals faced the potential of extradition to the U.S. and they united to try and prevent it at a constitutional level.

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 04: A Chicago police officer guards the perimeter of a crime scene where six people were found slain inside a home on the city

In 1985, a guerilla organization known as M-19 stormed the Colombian Supreme Court in protest of extradition to the U.S. They murdered around half of the judges and destroyed all the files relating to Los Extraditables. It is widely believed Escobar was involved in planning and supporting the event.

Clean Slate

Force Wasn’t the only method employed by Pablo Escobar to try and avoid facing trial and imprisonment in the U.S.A. In another attempt the weaponize his wealth, he had offered that in exchange for changing the country’s extradition laws, Escobar offered to pay off Colombia’s entire national debt. It must have been a tempting offer, but it was refused.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA, AUGUST 14: Detail as a worker lays out the 500 Argentine peso note sheets before sending them to the cut and packaging machine at Casa de Moneda on August 14, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  To cope with one of the world
Ricardo Ceppi/GettyImages

Today’s Colombian government may wish their predecessors had taken a different attitude though, since while at the time Escobar made his offer, the total national debt was around $10 billion, today it is close to $166 billion.

Forbes List

Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg. These are the five names at the top of the Forbes Rich List for 2021. The most widely recognized wealth list in America has also had some more interesting names on it over the decades.

The Fifth Avenue headquarters of Forbes Magazine in New York. (Photo by James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)
James Leynse/GettyImages

In 1987, Pablo Escobar was included in the list for the first time and he remained there until his death in 1993. His position peaked in 1989 when he was ranked as the 7th richest person in the world. Escobar may have enjoyed the acclaim, but the notoriety wasn’t exactly ideal for a person working in a trade that relied on a certain level of anonymity.


While authorities would have to wait until after Pablo Escobar’s death to seize most of his possessions and estate, they did get their hands on a “small” amount of the cartel’s fleet of vehicles and infrastructure in the late 1980s. The amounts they got a hold of were absolutely insane.

MUGLA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 19: Eclipse, the private luxury yacht of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, anchors at Hisaronu Bay in Marmaris district of Mugla, southwestern Turkey on October 19, 2015. The 163-meter-long Eclipse, world
Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Colombia seized 142 planes, 20 helicopters, 32 yachts, and 141 homes and offices – basically enough to establish and defend a whole new town. Drug dealing might not seem like a real “business” to many people, but the administration of Escobar’s logistics department alone must have been complex enough to rival many legitimate corporations.


There are many ways to move drugs around the world; over land, in the sky, or sailing through the waves of seas and oceans. While there is always a way to escape detection, authorities have long since been developing ways to combat these movements.

A Soviet Kilo class patrol submarine underway on the surface, 1989. | Location: in the ocean. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Pablo Escobar used all these ways, but he also pioneered a new form of movement that looks like it came straight out of a movie. In an effort to evade detection by U.S. authorities, Escobar bought two remote control submarines. An ingenious solution and one that is still used by many drug traffickers today.

Huge Loads

The biggest single shipment of cocaine Pablo Escobar is known to have sent to U.S. shores was weighed at an incredible 25.5 tons, an amount so big that it is almost hard to believe that he was able to pull it off. To put that into perspective. that is the equivalent of eight elephants, or, in financial terms, about $40 million wholesale.

ALMADA, PORTUGAL - MAY 31: View of impounded bales of cocaine in front of the captured sailboat as high-ranking officials from the Judicial Police, the Navy and the Air Force hold a press conference in the Lisbon Navy Base on
Horacio Villalobos/GettyImages

It’s believed that, at the height of the Medellin Cartel’s operations, around 15 tonnes every day was being distributed. That’s almost 5500 tonnes per year – which is over 1700 elephants and well, an awful lot of dollars. Enough to inspire even modern distribution giants like Jeff Bezos.

Robin Hood

Pablo Escobar led a bloody and criminal regime, and there is no denying the horror and damage he caused to ordinary people around the world and the headaches he gave to authorities in Colombia, the U.S, and beyond. However, that didn’t stop him from pursuing an image as something of a “Robin Hood” figure.

Sean Gallup/GettyImages

Escobar, in a very contrasting manner, when considering his other activities, worked hard to improve the lives of those living below the poverty line in his home country. This included establishing food programs, donating to hospitals and churches, building football stadiums, developing parks, and regenerating neighborhoods.

What’s in a Name?

Don Pablo (Sir Pablo), El Padrino (The Godfather), El Patrón (The Boss), The King of Cocaine, The King of Crack, Matar Pablo (Killing Pablo), Paisa Robin Hood – these are just a few of the names Pablo Escobar went by during his career as a drug lord.

LIVORNO, ITALY - FEBRUARY 01: An officer of the Guardia di Finanza shows the complex way to seal the bricks of cocaine with DG (Dolce & Gabbana) luxury fashion logos on them, containing codes serving as mode of communication for drug dealers, are displayed on February 1, 2019 in Livorno, Italy. Black backpacks containing 644 kg of cocaine, worth in the region of over 130 million euros, were found in a container in the port of Livorno. The cocaine was found on January 15, 2019 by the 2 Compagnia of the Guardia di Finanza di Livorno in a container on a ship over some sacks of coffee and is one of the biggest drug seizures ever occurring in Italy and Europe. The cocaine was divided into 582 bricks and hidden in 23 black backpacks placed inside the container.  (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
Laura Lezza/GettyImages

His parents had named him Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, but when you’re head of a bloodthirsty cartel, image is important, so it’s good to get a little creative. Which names Escobar himself came up with, and which were thought up by groveling minions or fearful enemies, is unknown.

Lost Money

How much of your savings could you afford to lose each year before it started to have an impact? Two percent? Five percent? One of the hazards of Pablo Escobar amassing such a huge wealth in cash was that he was forced to write off around ten percent of his earnings simply because the actual cash was lost or damaged.

UKRAINE - 2020/08/26: In this photo illustration one hundred US dollar banknotes are seen on display. (Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SOPA Images/GettyImages

The King of Cocaine had to find so many hiding places for his money it was impossible to make sure all were completely secure. Some money became too water damaged to spend, some was simply lost, and some was eaten by rats. In total, Escobar is estimated to have lost around $2.2 billion a year in this way.

Extreme Measures

On November 27, 1989, Avianca Flight 203 exploded over the Soacha area of Colombia. All 107 people on board were killed, as were three more on the ground. Pablo Escobar had instructed two men to board the flight carrying a suitcase and sit directly above the main fuel tank. Just before take-off, one man left the flight. The other had been told he was carrying a recording device and, once the flight was in the air, he should turn it on to record any conversation between two passengers nearby.

Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Of course, it was a bomb, not a recorder, and Escobar’s man unwittingly killed himself along with everyone else when he flipped the switch. Escobar’s target had been a single person, the presidential candidate Cesar Gaviria Trujillo. Trujillo was not on board and was elected to office the following year.

It Wasn’t Me

Four years after Avianca Flight 203, Pablo Escobar was accused of orchestrating a bomb attack on New York City’s World Trade Center. A truck bomb was detonated beneath Tower 1 with the intention of collapsing it completely and bringing Tower 2 down with it. Had it succeeded, 50,000 or more people could have been killed. It failed, but it did take the lives of six people, including a pregnant woman.

402285 02: New York City firefighters, police and others search the debris field March 13, 2002, at the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks in New York City, a day after the remains of 11 firefighters and two civilians were recovered in an area that was the south tower. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/GettyImages

Before the true perpetrators were discovered, the finger of suspicion was pointed towards Escobar. The cartel leader was enraged. He sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to say he would never do such a thing, after all, the people in those towers were his customers.

Anything But America

The reason Pablo Escobar was so determined to take out Cesar Gaviria Trujillo was the potential president’s policy on extradition. Trujillo had declared that, if elected, he intended to pass a law that would allow drug traffickers to be extradited to face trial, and potentially jail, in the United States.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09:  New York Police Department  tactical police officers stand guard near the New York Stock Exchange on September 9, 2011 in New York City. Officials are stepping up security in New York and Washington D.C. a day after U.S. officials received a credible but unconfirmed terror threat to utilize car bombs on bridges or tunnels in New York or Washington.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/GettyImages

As you can probably tell by now, that was the thing Escobar feared most in the world. If he were imprisoned in Colombia he could still bribe officials, run his business, and look after his family. None that would be possible from an American jail cell.

La Catedral

On August 18, 1989 cartel hitmen assassinated the politician Luis Carlos Galán after he publicly announced support for extradition to the U.S. This prompted Cesar Gaviria Trujillo to take action. Rather than risk the violence escalating, Trujillo made Pablo Escobar an offer.

HELSINKI, FINLAND - OCTOBER 07:  Finnish man and women dance on the dance floor of Studio 51 nightclub on October 07, 2005 in Helsinki, Finland. Most of the nightclubs in Helsinki are located in the city center.  (Photo by Yoray Liberman/Getty Images)
Yoray Liberman/GettyImages

The deal was that Escobar would hand himself in and halt all criminal activity, in exchange, he would not only be able to serve his punishment in Colombia, but he would also receive a reduced sentence, preferential treatment, and he would be allowed to build his own prison. Escobar took the deal and built La Catedral, a prison that featured a casino, a nightclub, and a spa.

No Deal

Pablo Escobar may have said he agreed to all of Cesar Gaviria Trujillo’s terms, but his actions were different. Yes, he gave himself up and allowed himself to be incarcerated in his own luxury prison. The bit about ceasing all criminal activity, however, he was less willing to comply with.

MARIANNA, FLORIDA - CIRCA 2016: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been shot in black and white. Color version not available.) The now shuttered Dozier School for Boys, a jail for youth in Florida, is a notorious site where many kids died and were buried in unmarked graves, as seen in 2016 , in Marianna, Florida. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
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When authorities learned Escobar was still running the cartel from inside La Catedral, they began making plans to move him to a standard prison. Of course, Escobar found out and the deal was off completely. He escaped and remained officially on the run for the rest of his life.



Joined Forces

Pablo Escobar’s escape from prison was the last straw for the authorities who had sought to bring him to justice for around three decades. This was the moment when the Colombian police had teamed up with U.S Special forces in order to put an end to his crimes once and for all.


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 09: A fence surrounds the Cook County jail complex on April 09, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. With nearly 400 cases of COVID-19 having been diagnosed among the inmates and employees, the jail is nation’s largest-known source of coronavirus infections. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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A joint unit was constructed featuring members of Central Spike (Intelligence Support Agency), Delta Force (Army Special Ops), and DEVGRU (Navy Seals). Escobar remained in hiding but, with this sort of power and commitment amassing against him, he must have known his days as a free man were numbered.



Los Pepes

It wasn’t only the authorities who had lost patience with Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel. Troubles had begun to bubble from within, and as the drug gang leader remained on the loose, a vigilante group formed and began carrying out increasingly violent actions against members of the cartel.


SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 06: A man mourns at the gravestone of a relative who died during the Korean War on Memorial Day at the Seoul National Cemetery  on June 06, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea is marking the 67th anniversary of Memorial Day, in tribute of people who died during military service in the 1950-53 Korean War.  (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
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Los Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar (People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar), who were largely funded by rival cartels and former associates of Escobar, destroyed property and killed anyone they could find connected to Escobar. Associates, lawyers, and family were all murdered in a bloody campaign which resulted in more than 300 deaths.



Fuel Bills

Similar to the laws of supply and demand, one of the most simple economic rules is that the more of something you have, the less it is likely to be worth. That was certainly the case with Pablo Escobar’s cash. With more available money than he could possibly spend, each paper note was of far less consequence to Escobar than it might be to you or me.


HONG KONG, CHINA - 2020/09/01: Paper money being burnt during the festival.
According to local tradition, the Hungry Ghost Festival is marked believing that the gates of hell will open for the month (July of the Chinese lunar Calendar) and ghosts would roam the streets. (Photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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This was demonstrated when Escobar’s daughter became ill while the family was hiding out in the Medellin mountains in 1992 and 1993. She needed to be kept warm and the most combustible material to hand was cash, so Escobar burned around $2.2 million to generate the heat the family needed.


Final Showdown

Pablo Escobar remained on the run for 18 months after his escape from prison. Then, on December 2, 1993, he found himself cornered at a property in Los Olivos. Colombian police tracked Escobar’s location by using cell phone triangulation and a party of 8 officers stormed the building in which they believed Escobar to be hiding.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Brooklyn on June 23, 2021 in New York City. New Yorkers are increasingly concerned about a rise in violence in the city with a 53.2 percent hike in shootings from last year so far this year. Eric Adams, a former New York City police sergeant, is currently in the lead for the Democratic nomination for mayor due to his tough on crime platform. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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What ensued was a movie-style shoot-out leading to a climactic rooftop scene. After two other fugitives were killed, Escobar was dealt gunshot wounds to the leg and torso. The final shot that killed Pablo Escobar traveled through his ear. Whether this was done in the shootout, in a final execution, or was delivered by a cornered Escobar himself, is a matter of ongoing debate.

He Said He Would

The theory that Pablo Escobar turned a gun on himself once he knew the game was up has been perpetuated by his two brother’s events since that fateful day on the Los Olivos rooftop. Roberto Escobar and Fernando Sánchez Arellano released a statement saying, “[Pablo] had committed suicide, he did not get killed. “

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Wei Pang of China competes in the 50m pistol qualifying event on Day 5 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Shooting Centre on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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One of the brothers explained this by telling readers and listeners that, “during all the years they went after him, [Pablo] would say to me every day that if he was really cornered without a way out, he would ‘shoot himself through the ear’.”

Popular to the End

Despite the swell of public and political opinion against him, Pablo Escobar had remained hugely popular with many people in death as he had in life. Amazingly, his funeral was attended by more than 25,000 people.

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These types of grand funerals are usually saved for beloved artists or world leaders, and Escobar’s policy of using his wealth and power to help the lives of Colombia’s poor had ensured he would be remembered in some quarters as a folk hero. A violent, bloody, and merciless folk hero for sure, but one who earned the love of those he helped nonetheless.

Pablo Belfort

If you’re wondering what it was like to be an “employee” of the Medellin Cartel, then you might want to re-watch The Wolf of Wall Street. Just like Jordan Belfort, Pablo Escobar was happy to spend huge amounts of his ill-gotten gains to entertain his loyal team members.

A US one hundred dollar bill with Benjamin Franklin is seen amongst other bills in New York on Friday, February 19, 2016. The U.S. Treasury Dept. is proposing phasing out the $100 bill because the larger bills are
Richard Levine/GettyImages

On some occasions, he was known to hire groups of beauty queens to eat insects, climb trees, or take part in sports car races – all while nude, of course. At other times, Escobar and his football-mad lieutenants would pay to fly in their favorite soccer players and organize matches for the cartel men to bet on. 


Of course, when authorities raided Pablo Escobar’s home there were many things they expected to find. Some, however, were quite a surprise. In Escobar’s book library, they found one particular title which may have explained his phenomenal success.

PRESOV, SLOVAKIA - APRIL 19: An unidentified man browses through the book in the regional Library of P. O. Hviezdoslav after it was re-opened under new COVID-19 measures allowing people to choose books directly from the open spaces of the library on April 19, 2021 in Presov, Slovakia. Slovakia has recorded over 374,000 cases of COVID-19 infections, over 11,000 deaths in total, in a population of 5.4 million residents. Certain shops, libraries, museums, hotels, Zoos, botanical gardens, swimming pools, and churches will be allowed to open their doors under strict regulations for people. Travel between regional districts will be allowed with a negative antigen or PCR test. (Photo by Zuzana Gogova/Getty Images)
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On one of Escobar’s bookshelves was El Poder Del Pensamiento Tenaz, the Spanish translation of Norman Vincent Peale’s self-help book, The Power of Positive Thinking. How Peale felt about inspiring one of the bloodiest cartel leaders in modern history is unknown, but it seems at least his theories have been thoroughly put to the test.


Pablo Escobar built a private zoo at his Hacienda Nápoles estate in Puerto Triunfo, Antioquia. He imported giraffes and elephants, but it was his hippos that have made the longest-lasting impression. Escobar originally brought in four hippos. The animals were judged too difficult to seize and move after the drug lord’s death and were simply released into the local habitat.

25th July 1960:  Frank Meakins weighs Doreen and Julie, twin tiger cubs, born at the Whipsnade Zoo, in May.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

By 2014 they were believed to be around 40 hippos with the population doubling in size every few years. Today they are considered a real threat to the local ecosystem and need to be managed by a program of chemical castration.

Buried Treasure

Another way Pablo Escobar hid cash was to stuff it into plastic drums, which he would then bury. Most were buried in or around his many properties, but some were taken out into the countryside. 

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Unfortunately for both Escobar and the Colombian authorities who ultimately seized all his wealth, keeping records of where these drums were buried doesn’t seem to have been one of the Medellin Cartel’s strong points. Millions, if not billions, of dollars were never recovered and are assumed to still be underground somewhere in Colombia. A couple of spades and a plane ticket to Bogotá, anyone?

Escobar was but one of many successful criminals that left their mark on history, keep up to learn some more about those brilliant evil masterminds! 

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The origin of the Oriental Brothers International Band can be traced to a man, JOHN IKEDIALA. He’s a relative of Dan Satch, who himself is a founding member of the group.

Shortly after the Biafra War, a lot of Igbos faced hardship as a fallout of the War. Igbos lost homes, property, friends, and family. One such person was John Ikediala, a musician, who could barely survive and his music career was at a standstill. So, Dan Satch’s wife pleaded with him to help Ikediala resuscitate his band so that he could have a source of livelihood and not die.

Dan Satch, in his usual nature of benevolence, abandoned his job as a mechanic, to help John Ikediala to revamp his band. This however came at a cost to Dan Satch. Not only did he abandon his work as a mechanic, friends, and relatives mocked him for abandoning his work for music.

And so, the journey to the great Oriental Brothers International Band started, without their knowing it. Dan Satch assembled musicians, those he knew and those that were brought to him. Among these musicians were Tony Awoma, Kabaka, and Warrior. Actually, Kabaka came to replace Awoma, who in his usual nature was not a stable person and had gone even before anything too serious had begun. It was because he was always coming and going that Dan Satch actually brought Kabaka to replace him. (Awoma returned in 1977 to replace Kabaka when he too left in 1976).

Warrior himself also came to replace the first vocalist. At this time, Dan Satch could only play xylophone and nothing else. He left the xylophone when Aquila joined since Aquila was good at percussions and conga. Dan Satch then started teaching himself how to play the guitar and bass. Finally, a band was formed for John Ikediala with Warrior on vocals, Kabaka on guitar, Dan Satch on bass, Ichita on drums, and Aquila on percussions.

In search of greener pastures, the band moved to Kano around 1970/71. However, the move turned out to be a disaster. John Ikediala became selfish and didn’t take care of the band. According to Dan Satch, the band members had to endure serious hunger, with Kabaka quitting the band.

By 1972, the boys couldn’t bear it any longer and Dan Satch appealed to those who were left that he had a sister in Lagos and that they should move there. So the band landed in Lagos and stayed in Ikeja. They initially were playing in hotels and joints. Dan Satch began searching for Kabaka again and eventually brought him back to the band. However, according to Dan Satch, Kabaka was very reluctant to come back. He had to send important people to him with some cash to persuade him to come back. Kabaka eventually returned but was rumoured to have given Dan Satch one condition: that he be appointed band leader. A request Dan Satch granted.

Kabaka, Warrior and Dan Satch on the cover of their 1997 reunion album, Anyi Abiala Ozo

They continued as a band in this fashion without a name, not to talk of the Oriental Brothers International Band they are now famously known. Dan Satch started visiting record companies to secure a recording contract. He first went to EMI where the band was rejected outrightly. This was because Sony Okosuns who was the A&R Manager at that time allegedly blocked them. From there, they went to DECCA/Afrodisia where they were also initially rejected due to comments also allegedly made by Ebenezer Obey, but the receptionist, a man at the studio who was Igbo, pressed a few buttons for them. Miraculously, DECCA officials sent a message to Dan Satch that they were coming to the hotel where they were based to audition.

Warrior and Dan Satch on the sleeve of Obi Nwanne album

Dan Satch got the boys ready including buying polo t-shirts for each of the members so the band could look clean and professional. The band played Ìhè Chi Nyere for the audition. It was a simple setup with Warrior on vocals, Kabaka on lead guitar, Dan Satch on bass, Ichita on drums, and Aquila on percussion. There was no rhythm guitar part for the song and Kabaka had to keep playing non-stop throughout the length of the song.

Fortunately, DECCA was somewhat impressed and the boys were invited to the company to sign a contract in 1973. It was at the point of filling out the forms that the name ORIENTAL BROTHERS came about. This was how the Oriental Brothers International Band was born.

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Image caption, An artist is behind a project to revive the story of Nangeli

The story of a lower caste woman who cut her breasts to protest against a discriminatory “breast tax” in British-ruled India is being revived by an artist wants to recognize her sacrifice. BBC Hindi’s Divya Arya reports from the south Indian state of Kerala.

The story of Nangeli may never have been known, but for a chance discovery.

Four years ago, artist Murali T was flipping through an in-house magazine of a local bank, when he stumbled on a small report about Nangeli, written by a native from her area, Cherthala.

Intrigued by the story, he made his way to the small sleepy town.

“I spent a lot of time with the local people of Cherthala and even found the locality where Nangeli is believed to have lived over 100 years ago.

The house that stands where Nangeli was born
Image caption, The village Nangeli comes from is called Mulachhipuram or the land of the woman with breasts

“It was called Mulachhipuram or the land of the woman with breasts, named to remember Nangeli’s great sacrifice against the breast-tax,” he told the BBC.

It is a village tale that is not officially recognised in any of India’s historical accounts.

But the story of Nangeli is much loved by her local villagers – and now Murali T hopes to document it and have it recognised as part of Kerala’s history by the government.

Reinforcing caste structure

The “breast-tax” had been imposed by the king of the erstwhile State of Travancore, one of the 550 princely States that existed in British ruled India.

Women from lower castes were not allowed to cover their breasts, and were taxed heavily if they did so.

“The purpose of the breast-tax was to maintain the caste structure,” said Dr Sheeba KM, an associate Professor of gender ecology and Dalit studies at the Shri Shankaracharya Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya in Kerala.

Social customs on clothing were tailored to a person’s caste status, which meant that they could be identified merely by the way they dressed.

Image of Nangeli

Nangeli belonged to the Ezhava caste. Her community was required to pay the tax along with other lower castes like the Thia, Nadar and Dalit communities.

But, villagers say, she decided to protest by covering her chest without paying the breast-tax – a brave move in the early 1900s for a woman of lower caste status.

Our auto rickshaw driver Mohanan Narayan takes us to the neighbourhood where Nangeli lived.

“When the tax inspector heard she was refusing to pay the tax, he went to her house to ask her to stop breaking the law. But she still refused to pay the tax, and cut her breasts off in protest instead,” he says.

According to local villagers, Nangeli died of excessive blood loss, while her distraught husband committed suicide by jumping into her funeral pyre. The couple had no children.

Her relatives moved out of Mulachhipuram to nearby towns and hamlets.

Recognising sacrifice

Maniyan Velu, her cousin’s great-grand-son, says he feels upset that Nangeli’s story is not more widely known.

“Her act was selfless, a sacrifice to benefit all the women of Travancore, and ultimately forced the King to roll back the breast-tax,” he says.

An old man, Maniyan owns no land, and his children work as farm labourers. But he is not looking for charity, only some recognition.

“We feel so proud that we are her family. All we want is that more people should know about her sacrifice. It would be befitting if her name was made a part of this region’s history,” he tells the BBC.

Murali T hopes to make that happen.

He was so moved by Nangeli’s story and the absence of any visual documentation that he decided to paint a likeness of the violent act she brought upon herself.

“I did not want to depict it as a bloody event; instead my aim was to glorify her act as an inspiration to humanity, a representation that would command respect,” he said.

His three paintings of Nangeli have now been published in his book, Amana – The Hidden Pictures of History, this year.

He has also held 15 exhibitions of his paintings across Kerala and now plans to hold one in a public place in Cherthala.

“If I can get the people of that area to take notice, that may help convince the government to include this important act as part of our official history.”

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