Pablo Escobar was a feared and infamous Colombian Drug Lord who was often referred to as the King of Cocaine. He was a founding member of the powerful Medellin Cartel and worked with Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, Carlos Lehder, George Jung and the Ochoa Brothers. Pablo rose to become one of the most powerful and notorious drug kingpins in the world. He was responsible for large quantities of drugs that entered Spain, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and the United States. At the peak of his power he supplied 80% of the cocaine that went to the US. In the process, he became a billionaire with an estimated net worth of around $25 to $30 billion. At the time it made him one of the wealthiest people in the world and the richest criminal. He was also known for his ruthless and murderous ways. He was involved in several bombings and massacres. He was also involved in the deaths of politicians, judges and police officers. He was known for his policy in regards to law enforcement and government officials that was “plata o plomo”, which translates to “money or bullets.” This basically meant that he would either offer bribes or death if you didn’t do things his way. Despite his sometimes-evil ways, he was beloved by the people of Medellin. He was responsible for the construction of churches, schools and hospitals. Of course, the Colombian and American governments didn’t feel the same way as the people of Colombia.
Narcos is a Netflix web television series that’s created by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro. The series chronicles Pablo's rise and fall as the drug lord of Medellin. The first season arrived to Netflix on August 28, 2015, with the second season arriving September 2, 2016. Wagner Moura stars as Pablo Escobar and the cast includes Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal, Paulina Gaitan and Raul Mendez. The series has received high praise and is critically acclaimed. However, Pablo’s son, Sebastian Marroquin and some online fans have pointed out several inaccuracies in the series concerning Pablo’s life. Although some feel that Pablo’s son might have a bit of a bias. Regardless, there were some errors he felt needed pointing out. Here is a look at 15 facts Narcos got wrong about Pablo Escobar’s life.
After Pablo’s death, Tata Escobar (Maria Victoria Henao) met with members of Escobar's rivals the Cali Cartel. She asked for their assistance in leaving Columbia. She also promised that her son would never seek revenge for his father’s death. Of course, the Cali Cartel demanded millions of dollars for all the damage Pablo's war caused. Pablo’s son, Juan Pablo Escobar, changed his name to Sebastian Marroquin. He simply chose the name from the phonebook. He was featured in a documentary, Sins of My Father, where he apologized to the families of those that his father had murdered. Turns out that Sebastian isn’t a big fan of Narcos. He recently sent out a Facebook post detailing 28 errors he noticed when watching the series. Of course some will dispute his neutrality. For most of the second season Pablo and his family are on the run from the Search Bloc, D.E.A. and Los Pepes. This is after his escape from prison. In the series, Pablo and his family live in several lavish mansions while on the run. For the most part they still lived the billionaire lifestyle. However, in his Facebook post Sebastian disputes this as well. He notes that they didn’t live a comfortable life in any mansions. They actually lived in the slums and struggled to survive.
D.E.A. agents Steve Murphy and Javier Pena, played a crucial role in bringing down Pablo Escobar but Narcos got a few things wrong in that regard. It’s not stated, however, the series starts around the late 70s to early 80s. At this point in the series, Pablo is already a boss and on his way to becoming the King of Cocaine. The series depicts both Murphy and Pena being apart of the investigations early on. However, Javier Pena did not arrive in Colombia until 1988. Furthermore, Steve Murphy arrived even later that Pena. Murphy arrived around 1991, almost 10 years after Pablo began his rise according to the series. Actor Boyd Holbrook portrays Steve Murphy. Prior to his role on Narcos, Holbrook appeared in Milk, A Walk Among the Tombstones and Gone Girl. Pedro Pascal portrays Javier Pena. Pascal has appeared in several TV series, including NYPD Blue, The Good Wife and Nurse Jackie. Aside from his role on Narcos, he is perhaps best known for playing Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones.
Pablo Escobar was a very proud Colombian. Some considered him to be like Robin Hood in the sense that he would give to the poor although many dispute that he was anything like Robin Hood. Most fans of the series may not have noticed this error but many in Colombia noticed it right away, and in some cases, can’t get over it. The cast contains several non-Colombian actors. For example, Paulina Gaitan is Mexican and Luis Guzman is Puerto Rican. According to those in Colombia, the accents are not accurate and are infuriating for many. The actor playing Pablo received most of the criticism in this regard. Brazilian actor Wagner Moura, plays Pablo in Narcos. He’s received praise from many for his role and even was nominated for a Golden Globe. However, according to several Colombians, his Brazilian accent is very prominent and obvious when he speaks Spanish. It was reported that prior to filming the series, Wagner stayed in Medellin for a while in an attempt to properly learn the accent. Despite the criticism, he’s been praised for his performance.
The Colombian government created the Search Bloc in an attempt to bring Escobar to justice. The idea was to create a group that could not be corrupted by Pablo’s influence. In the series, Search Bloc appears early on and is led by Colonel Carrillo. They play an important part in bringing Pablo to justice with the help of the D.E.A. Due to their joint effort they’re able to arrest Pablo who ends up in the La Catedral prison. In July of 1992, Pablo escaped from the prison and went on the run. However, Search Bloc was not created in the 80s. In fact, the group was created after Pablo escaped from prison. Additionally, there was no such person named Colonel Carrillo. Hugo Martinez was put in charge of the group and a character based on Hugo was introduced in the second season. Also, the role of the D.E.A. wasn’t as prominent in real life and much of the wiretapping and surveillance was conducted by Colombian authorities.
This one has less to do with an incorrect fact regarding Pablo’s life. It’s more of an exclusion, which affects the Medellin Cartel. George Jung was a smuggler and worked with the Medellin Cartel. He started his career smuggling marijuana but soon upgraded to cocaine. While serving a prison sentence, George met Carlos Lehder. It was Carlos who introduced George to Pablo Escobar. Jung played an important role in the cocaine smuggling operation. His story is told in the biopic, Blow. Ted Demme directed Blow and it starred Johnny Depp as Jung, with Cliff Curtis as Pablo Escobar. A character based on Carlos Lehder appeared in the film. Blow was released on April 6, 2001. Despite his prominent role in the operation, George Jung does not appear in Narcos. However, Carlos Lehder does appear and has a prominent role in the series. However, there is no mention of George Jung. Jung served a 20 years prison sentence for drug smuggling and was released on June 2, 2014.
In Narcos, Pablo has many enemies but one in particular that caused a lot of problems for Escobar was the Cali Cartel. Initially, they agree to divide up the US. The Medellin Cartel got Miami while the Cali Cartel took over New York. However, later the two sides are at odds with each other. Pablo decides to gain revenge by attacking the leaders of the Cali Cartel. In the series, Pablo plants a bomb at Gilberto Rodriquez ‘s daughter’s wedding. This intensified the feud between the two opposing factions.
However, Sebastian Marroquin noted that the US territory agreement might have not happened. He stated in his Facebook post, "it is not certain that the Medellin and Cali cartels will negotiate to stay in Miami and New York to sell drugs". Also according to Sebastian, Pablo never attacked Gilberto Rodriquez’s daughter’s wedding. Sebastian noted that, "He complied with the agreement not to attack family members." However, some dispute Sebastian's defence of his father.
In Narcos, Pablo had a love affair with a journalist named Valeria Velez. She was madly in love with Pablo, although Escobar may have not felt the same way. Later, when Pablo is on the run and separated from his family he meets Valeria. He asks her to smuggle a phone to his family who are staying in a hotel guarded by the authorities. He offers her money but she refuses and sets up an interview with Tata Escobar. Obviously, the meeting of wife and mistress is a bit awkward. Later, Valeria is found murdered in front of the same hotel. Valeria Valez is based on real life journalist Virginia Vallejo. She was Pablo’s mistress and was madly in love with him, however she was never murdered and in fact, released a book, Loving Pablo Escobar.
Additionally, in 2006 she cooperated with the Department of Justice and accused politicians and presidents of working with the cartels. According to Sebastian, she never smuggled any phones to the family and hadn’t seen Pablo in 10 years at the time of his death. They simply used the phones in the hotel but tried not to in fear of Pablo being caught.
In Colombia the most popular sport is Football or Soccer, as it’s known in North America. The Colombian National Team had some of its greatest success in the early 90s. In both Narcos and reality, it was no secret that Pablo was a huge football fan. So much so that when he was imprisoned at La Catedral, he had a soccer field built. He was a big supporter of the Colombian National team and hoped he could watch them win the World Cup someday. In ESPN’s The Two Escobars, it shows that Pablo would still follow football when on the run. However, Pablo’s son Sebastian, noted in a Facebook post that the series got a few things wrong, and this one seemed to be very enraging. In the series, Pablo’s favorite team is Atletico Nacional, however this is apparently incorrect according to Sebastian. He points out that in reality Pablo was a huge fan of Deportivo Independiente Medellin and that was his favorite team.
In Narcos, Pablo’s mother Hermilda, is portrayed as being a loving mother and sweet grandmother. She is shown stitching cocaine to vests in order to be smuggled out. Later, she is on the run with Pablo, his wife and children. Pablo and his family go their separate ways. Hermilda is on then run with her daughter-in-law Tata and grandchildren. They are shown being unable to enter another country and are prevented from entering Germany. She leaves Tata and her grandchildren to return to Pablo. However, on her way she finds out about Pablo’s death. According to Sebastian, the depiction of his grandmother wasn’t the way he remembers. He noted that he wishes she were as sweet as she is in Narcos. She never stitched cocaine into vests and didn’t go on the run. In fact, she betrayed her son and made a deal with the Cali Cartel so she and her other sons could live in peace.
In Narcos, in Pablo’s last days he’s on the run from the Search Bloc, Los Pepes and the D.E.A. He’s running out of money and running out of time. For the most part he’s on his own but does have his bodyguard, Limon with him. They have run out of allies and places to hide. So Pablo turns to his estranged father. His father lives on an isolated farm. Here Pablo is somewhat at peace although he’d rather be with his wife and kids. He soon begins to enjoy the farm life and considers buying the land next to his father’s farm. However, his father rejects the idea and they have a confrontation and Pablo leaves and returns to Medellin. There is no proof or evidence to support the idea that Pablo stayed with his father. According to Steve Murphy and Javier Pena, there was a period when they had no idea where Pablo was hiding. They assumed he was still in Medellin. Additionally, Sebastian noted that he’d never seen his father be rude to his parents, although some dispute Sebastian’s claims.
In both real life and the series, Pablo made many enemies. There’s the D.E.A., politicians and the Cali Cartel. However, in the series one of Pablo’s greatest enemies is the head of the Search Bloc, Colonel Carrillo. Carrillo is depicted as being equally as ruthless and menacing; the only difference is he’s one of the “good guys”. In the series, Carrillo is so determined to bring down Pablo that he even got into his head. Pablo was haunted by nightmares of Carrillo and put fear in Pablo. In the end, Pablo got the better of Carrillo and killed him in cold blood. However, Colonel Carrillo is a fictional character loosely based on Jaime Ramirez Gomez and Hugo Martinez. Jaime Gomez was the leader of the anti-narcotics special force and he was killed in 1986 but not by Escobar. Hugo Martinez was the leader of the Search Bloc but not until after Pablo escaped from prison. However after Carrillo’s death, Hugo Martinez is introduced in season 2. Hugo Martinez is still alive.
Pablo Escobar died on December 2, 1993, in Los Olivos (a middle class neighborhood in Medellin). Pablo and his bodyguard, El Limon, were found by the Search Bloc and a chase ensued on the rooftops of Columbia. In the end, Pablo was shot and killed. In the series a Search Bloc member, Trujillo, delivers the final shot that killed Pablo. Trujillo was also feeding information to Los Pepes in order to track down Pablo. Trujillo was based on a real person. Javier Pena was sent on assignment but Steve Murphy was there when Pablo died. Although, he showed up after Pablo had been shot. However, several of Pablo’s relatives dispute that either the Search Bloc or the D.E.A. killed Pablo. Escobar was shot three times: in the leg, torso and behind the ear. Most of Pablo’s relatives believe that he committed suicide by shooting himself behind the ear. Even Pablo’s son, Sebastian suspects that his father killed himself and was not taken down by the Search Bloc. However, several of those involved in Pablo’s shooting reject the suicide theory.
In 1991, Escobar made an agreement with the Colombian government to give himself up. However, there were a few things he wanted in return. First, he would not be extradited to the US and instead serve a maximum of 5 years in a Colombian prison. It wouldn’t be any ordinary prison either. La Catedral was a prison that was built and designed to Escobar’s specifications. It overlooked the city of Medellin. It included a football field, Jacuzzi and waterfall. Reportedly, he was even able to choose the guards and he chose many he knew would be loyal to him. Many at the time referred to it as “Hotel Escobar” and “Club Medellin”. He continued to run his operation from inside but soon everything fell apart. It was reported that Escobar had some of his lieutenants tortured and murdered inside the prison. This resulted in the Colombian government wanting to move him to a normal prison. This is where the series and reality apparently go their separate ways. In the series, a massive confrontation took place at La Catedral with Colombian military, government officials and Escobar’s men. However, according to Sebastian’s Facebook post there never was any type of confrontation or showdown. He noted that during the construction of La Catedral, Escobar had some loose bricks installed in case he needed to escape and had no additional help in escaping.
In Narcos, the D.E.A. worked tirelessly in their attempt to bring down the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. At times it seemed like they couldn't catch a break. Pablo is beloved by the people of Medellin and has a strong influence over local authorities. Soon things start to go in their favor. One of the key moments that worked in their favor is when the D.E.A. discovered Escobar’s mugshot from years earlier. They tracked down the police photographer that took the picture. In the series, that mugshot with the mischievous smile came back to haunt Pablo at a crucial time. He was attempting to move into politics but that photo exposed him. The D.E.A. is triumphant in their move. However, in reality the D.E.A. were not the ones who found the mugshot and it wasn’t because of the police photographer. The editor of El Espectador, Guillermo Cano, remembered publishing a story that included that mugshot. He found it in the archives and it soon became public.
In Narcos, Pablo Escobar rises to the top of the drug world. He’s the all powerful drug lord but that’s not enough for him. He has aspirations to one day enter politics and dreams of becoming president one day. He became a member of congress and on the first day needed to borrow a tie in order to enter. However, how events transpired in real life differ from the series. First, Jairo Ortega never resigned and remained under the thumb of Pablo. Additionally, in Narcos Luis Carlos Galan is seen taking a bribe from Pablo. In fact, Luis never accepted any bribes and publicly banned him from the liberal movement. This resulted in Escobar joining the Renovacion Liberal. In Narcos, on Escobar’s first day, Lara Bonilla denounces him. This didn’t happen and in fact Escobar attended meetings in congress before being driven out. He was a part of the inauguration of Spain’s President.