“Say hello to my little friend,” is one of the most famous lines in cinematic history. The movie in which it came from is called Scarface (duh), and the actor who uttered the unforgettable words is none other than Al Pacino. He played the role of a crazy Cuban kingpin named Tony Montana. Pacino would wind up sniffing his way to the gangster movie hall of fame through his depiction of the malicious character. Scarface became a smash hit for both Hollywood and a young Pacino. Murder, money, lies, and excessive use of majestic substances, was among the many things found inside the mansion where the gangster died. Montana fell over the staircase railing after being shot, left to float in the blood-soaked waters of his fancy fountain. That scene ended the tumultuous life of a thug that longed for, like many in his business, a place at the top of one of the world’s most lucrative enterprise— the cocaine trade.
Colombian Cartels have long since made their case for being at the top of the smuggling food chain. Acts of terrorism and blood are all over the hands of the alliance. The brutal coalition was home to the enigmatic, and most prominent cartel leader in world history, Pablo Escobar. It’s said that Escobar’s enterprise, at the height of its criminal activity, banked more money than the big three combined (Ford, Dodge, GMC). Tony Montana’s nothing more than a fictional character in a Hollywood movie. Pablo Escobar and the Colombian Cartel, of which he was once in command, are most definitely not fake. Cartels have committed horrendous acts over the past several decades. They have taken hostage the citizens of their country, extorted government officials, and even murdered each other.
15. The Colombian Cartel Isn’t Limited To Being On Land
Smuggling narcotics into the United States is big business for any cartel looking to be at the top of the heap. Money is power, and power means everything to the very structure of these criminal organizations. Members are willing to go to any lengths necessary, as this picture proves. None of us would consider building submarines to be the Colombian Cartel’s forte. Show them any type of resistance and they will diligently work to find a way around the problem, though. Cartels are always looking for new and inventive ways of smuggling their goods into the United States. The cocaine trade is competitive and competing cartels like that of the Colombians are willing to smuggle their product into America anyway they can.
14. They’re Involved With The U.S. DEA
Apparently, it was hard to deny the allure of free product and hookers when being a United States DEA agent. From 2005 to 2008, a former police employee from Colombia claims that he “arranged ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes funded by the local drug cartels for these DEA agents at their government-leased quarters, over a period of several years.” An additional officer states that he’d provided protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and personal property at the parties and that, “in addition to soliciting prostitutes, three DEA [supervisory agents] in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.” Sounds like a hell of a party!
13. Stealing Black Gold
Cartels have been seen in the news infiltrating a different kind of business. A business they’d like to get their paws into. It pays more than all of their previous endeavors too. Stealing black gold as some roughnecks might call it, others would declare it Mexico’s number one export. Oil in Mexico has become the fuel that’s igniting tons of bloodshed, and the good ol’ United States of America is Mexico’s top buyer. Where there is one cartel, there is sure to be another. If Mexico’s where the money is, you can be sure that the Colombian cartel is getting their piece of the pie as well.
12. Colombian Palace Of Justice Siege
In 1985, the Colombian Cartel and its rebel force, known as M19, began an invasion of the Colombian Government offices known as the Palace of Justice. Taking twenty-five staff hostage, members of the alliance invaded the palace under the command of Pablo Escobar. Escobar, at the time, felt like the Colombian Government wasn’t trying hard enough to see things his way. He needed the help of his homeland officials. Escobar needed them to look the other way. He and his cartel held the world at gunpoint while they tried to cram their narcotics business down the public’s throat. The Colombian Cartel’s most notorious leader was not a man to be reasoned with as is proof by his gang storming the Colombian Palace of Justice.
11. Betrayal Is Part Of The Game
When it comes to cartels, Colombian-born Pablo Escobar is often the most discussed leader around most water coolers. If you haven’t seen the Netflix series Narcos, you’re missing out on one hell of a show! Operating himself without conscious, or guilt for the families he’d hurt was how Escobar stayed at the top the Colombian Cartel. Portrayed as a monster of sorts, Escobar went through periods of paranoia, where he wasn’t sleeping well. Paranoia and his lack of sensible decision-making skills lead Escobar to suspect, interrogate, and even kill some of the inner fabrics of his own criminal enterprise. Known to have a short fuse, Escobar murdered anyone he suspected was against him or his ideals.
10. The Dirty Money
South American Cartels, via unsealed United States documents, have been noted to launder their money as far away as Hong Kong. Washing the cash by purchasing counterfeit goods inside the country and then running it through Hong Kong banks, has cleaned up billions of dollars for the criminal networks. In 2014, Daniel “The Madman” Barrera pleaded guilty to money laundering in U.S. Federal Court. One of the largest Colombian money laundering operations discovered was stationed in Guangzhou, which has had upwards of an absurd 5-billion-dollar run through its doors. You can buy a flipping island for $1 billion. Imagine the possibilities. That’s a lot of money when you need to fund more criminal activities.
9. Their Involvement In Human Trafficking
A study conducted in 2013 estimates that thousands of people per year disappear in Colombia due too human trafficking. That’s a staggering number of people that go missing every fiscal year. Officials are doing everything they can to make sure those people are rescued. Cartels all across the world, including the Colombian Cartel, are playing a key role in the global tragedy otherwise known as “modern-day slavery.” No matter how morbid it sounds, trafficking humans is big business. The U.S. Department of Homeland Defense claims that more than $30 billion annually is made in illegal profits from trafficking humans. This provides an explanation as to why the Colombian Cartel has their hands into more than just the cocaine trade.
8. They Took Down Avianca Airlines Flight 203
Participating in terrorism is nothing new to the Colombian Cartel. Even when it comes to taking hundreds of innocent lives. November 17, 1989, Avianca Airlines Flight 203 en route to Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport in California departed. At a quarter past 7:00 a.m. that morning, the flight took off as planned from El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia. After being in the air only five minutes, the Boeing 727 exploded traveling nearly 500 mph at 13,000 ft. The aircraft crashed to the ground killing over one-hundred people. Pablo Escobar and his Colombian Cartel were to blame for the heinous act of terrorism, as shouts for Escobar’s capture were heard all around the world.
7. All The Kidnapping, Executions, And Murder
Cartels are experts at getting what they want. Abducting innocent people and using them as bargaining chips isn’t above the Colombian Cartel. In 1991, a journalist named Diana Turbay was kidnapped by the Medellin Cartel and was tragically killed when the Colombian police botched an attempt to save her life. Turbay was fooled into a fake meeting with a cartel leader and was taken hostage by the gang. The Colombian Cartel’s plan to kidnap the journalist stemmed from an effort to abduct as many government officials and journalists as possible to prevent the passing of an extradition bill. The Colombian Legislature endorsed a bill that would allow Pablo Escobar and his band of guerrillas to be prosecuted in United States courts.
6. The Medellin Cartel
Until his showdown with DEA agents in 1993, Pablo Escobar was the leader of one of the most ruthless cartels in Colombian history. The Medellin Cartel was an organized gang of narcotics suppliers and smugglers that originated in Medellin, Colombia. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Medellin Cartel headquartered in Bolivia, became known as perhaps the most successful cocaine smuggling operation in history, at the time. That earned the Colombian Cartel a projected 50-100 billion dollars a year at the pinnacle of its narcotic smuggling activities. By early 1990s, the Medellin Cartel was dismantled by the numerous enemies it had garnered itself from previous dealings. A combination of the Cali Cartel and the United States Government is believed to have driven the Medellin Cartel to its extinction.
5. The Extortion Of Government Officials
An interview that took place in 2014 with then Bogota mayor, Gustavo Petro, revealed that Colombian Cartels have long had access to the highest levels of government. Colombian legislature has shown reluctance over the years to throw the hammer at the cartels that control its number one export, cocaine. Petro is quoted in a 2014 interview with euronews.com saying:
“I believe that to get peace we have to change the political model, integrating all of the country’s population, by the democratization of Colombia… But this means also having the courage to search for a way out of the problem of drug trafficking. Both things go together, because it all started with social exclusion and violence, and led to drug trafficking, which uses violence for its own ends… If we don’t solve the first problem, which provoked violence, we won’t solve the rest. Drug lords have used violence to control the state, and the territory in Colombia. It makes the drugs trade almost indestructible. Drug lords in Colombia have state powers.”
4. Famous Colombian Hitman “Popeye” Jairo Velasquez Vasquez
Rumored to have murdered 300 people and sanctioned an additional 3000 more, Pablo Escobar’s favorite hitman, “Popeye” Jairo Velasquez Vasquez, tells his story to the public about life with the Medellin Cartel. A sinful life of crime that left countless numbers of police and civilians dead. In his tell-all memoir, “Popeye” talks about surviving the wicked tyrant, Escobar, and admits that at the pinnacle of their narcotic empire, the guerrilla group had control of intricate parts of the Colombian Government. Vasquez claims that his boss’ (Escobar) vast fortune allowed them to buy the Colombian Intelligence Agency and the Administrative Department of Security. Amongst bribing and torturing government officials, along with his boss, Escobar, Vasquez admits to taking part in the Avianca Airlines Flight 203 disaster that killed over one-hundred people.
3. The Cali Cartel
No, that’s not a Californian Cartel. It’s the Cali Cartel, and it came to power after the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, along with Jose Santacruz Londono, broke away from Pablo Escobar and his Medellin Cartel at the end of the 1980s. Originating in southern Colombia in the city of Santiago de Cali, the Cali Cartel took over when the Medellin Cartel lost the War Against Drugs. During the Cali Cartel’s most powerful time, it was in control of over 90% of the world’s cocaine trade. At the end of their reign, the DEA was quoted saying that the Cali Cartel was much like the Russian “KGB” and was, “the most powerful crime syndicate in recent memory.”
2. The 400
An extension of the famous Cali Cartel is dubbed “The 400” and was lead by the notorious kingpin, Jorge Alberto Rodriguez. “The 400” was an extension of the Cali Cartel and was an alliance of 400 of the most talented criminals from around the world; not excluding top-ranking government officials from all around the globe. Rodriguez began his life of crime smuggling millions of dollars worth of cocaine into the United States before he reached the tender young age of 18 years old. Rodriguez was born into cartel life by his father, Jorge Alberto Rodriguez and was shown the ropes by his devious dad. While incarcerated, Jorge Alberto Rodriguez, like his father, was equally unpredictable even ordering hits from within his prison cell.
1. The Assassination Of Luis Carlos Galán
Here’s some live footage that was shot in Soacha, Cundinamarca on August 18th, 1989— the night presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan was assassinated. You can clearly hear automatic gunfire at the end of the clip when the presidential candidate was killed. Galan was shot to death by Pablo Escobar’s hitman after having a commanding lead going into the Colombian Presidential elections in 1990. The assassination took place at a public rally and was tied to many attacks as the Colombian Cartel had been attempting to gain more control over the Colombian Government. The cartel wanted to make sure the ground they had gained smuggling dope throughout the international community wasn’t lost on the new presidential hopeful.