Pablo Escobar led a life full of contradictions. He helped glamorize cocaine and make it a drug that high society wanted to use as well as the poor and downtrodden. He had a hand in the murder of thousands of people, yet gave new life to his community and built housing projects. He made his hideouts in run down abandoned houses, but had their interiors fully appointed. In his life he became one of the richest men in the world. But Pablo Escobar died much like his life had been before drugs: a shoeless, lost mess of a man. .
Pablo Escobar started his life of crime in his hometown of Mendellin, Colombia. Like many do, he first engaged in petty crimes and steadily moved up to more serious offenses. His first crimes were theft, including tombstones that he polished and resold. In the early 1970s Escobar had a slew of crimes he was executing such as car theft, kidnappings, and illegal gun sales (Yarbro). It was in the late 1970s that Escobar moved on to bigger things and started to become a big player in the burgeoning cocaine trade. .
He started his cartel, the Mendellin cartel, taking low-level dealers and forming them into the very large, intricate, and well-known group that would supply, at one time, 80% of the cocaine consumed in the United States (Jenish). Leading the Cartel made Escobar a very rich man, garnering a fortune of $5 billion dollars from his illegal drug trade (Gahlinger 243). .
While Escobar did use his wealth to buy houses all over the world including a mansion in Miami and a ranch that housed giraffes, camels and a kangaroo, he also gave back to his community (Watson). Escobar was a local hero in his hometown of Mendellin, Columbia. Escobar built barrio Pablo Escobar in 1982 to house 2,000 of Mendellins poor. The housing project is made up of 450 small brick homes that have electricity, telephone, and running water, things that are rare for Columbia's lower class. The residents of the barrio overlook Escobar's, "Don Pablo" to them, drug connections saying things like "he is a man of great tenderness" and "he's the father of us all"(Isikoff).