Narcos is an immensely popular show that is based on the life of Pablo Escobar and his compadres in the Medellin cartel at the height of their reign of Columbia. The show is produced by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, and Doug Miro. Pablo Escobar became a billionaire, one of the richest men in America in the late ‘80s, and his lavish lifestyle became a topic of curiosity across the world. The Medellin, with Escobar at the helm, made majorly big bucks in both the production and distribution of cocaine. At one point Pablo Escobar supplied 80% of the cocaine in the United States.
In the hit series Narcos' first season, we are shown a view of how the cocaine operation is run and what it really took to be on top of such a lucrative and deadly business. The second season premiered in September of 2016 and reveals the life and times of Pablo Escobar as his life began to unravel until his untimely death. The show has been renewed for a third and fourth season by Netflix but some of the characters we list here aren’t alive in the series any longer. While the drug wars in Colombia reveal tons of drama the reality is that they also left behind quite the body count.
Below we have 15 photos of the most influential people in the life of Pablo Escobar, including an unforgettable one of the man himself.
15 Juan Pablo Escobar
Juan Pablo changed his name to Sebastian Marroquin and currently lives in Argentina working as an architect. He resides there with his wife and daughter. Marroquin, like his mother and little sister, chose to change their names based on the general reaction to their father’s surname. Juan Pablo Escobar, son of the famous Narco, has seen the critically acclaimed show Narcos on Netflix and he’s not happy about it.
Marroquin wrote a book entitled Pablo Escobar: My Father in 2014 using his birth name and in the 2009 documentary, Sins of my Father, Marroquin visits the families of victims of his father’s assassins. Both ventures promoted healing and reconciliation in a previously drug war-torn country which is his aim in the wake of his father’s reign over Colombia. After their father’s death, Juan Pablo, his sister, and his mother all had to go on the run to avoid being kidnapped and/or murdered.
14 Steve Murphy
As a DEA agent working in Colombia at the height of the drug cartels, Steve Murphy walked the streets with a $300,000 price tag on his head. After working for four years in Miami, Murphy was transferred to Colombia to work with Texas-born Javier Pena in taking down the Medellin Cartel and inevitably shooting down Pablo Escobar on the rooftops in Los Olivos.
Murphy was an outsider trying to dismantle an organization that was largely backed by small villages, some police, and even various politicians. Murphy and Pena were tasked with searching for informants which was definitely exceptionally dangerous work since so many average and non-average people were not in support of the work that they were doing.
Eventually, the DEA and Colombian government agencies closed in on Escobar in Medellin using phone triangulation and the kingpin was taken out. This was a huge day for Murphy because with the death of Escobar he no longer had a hit out on him.
13 Tata Escobar
Tata was a nickname that was given to Escobar’s wife, her real name was Maria Victoria Henao. When he was 26 and she was 15 the pair ran away to get married despite much persuasion from her parents to leave him. The pair were married in 1976 and after a couple of years had two children, Juan Pablo and Manuela.
Both children of the kingpin have since changed their names, and so has his wife Maria. They all live in Argentina where they eventually ended up after seeking refuge in the country after country after the death of their narco patriarch. After being shot down by police in 1993 the Escobar family were in danger from cartels trying to make a point that the king was dead by kidnapping or killing the woman and her young children.
The family first fled to Germany before finding a safe place in Argentina where they lived in peace for almost a decade. After a television show outed their presence in the country Escobar and her son were arrested for “money laundering” charges that never went through.
12 Connie Murphy
Connie is the wife of DEA agent Steve Murphy who was hunting down Pablo Escobar alongside his partner Javier Pena. The two were heavily consulted by the Narcos writers and producers while the show was being developed and were pleased with the outcome.
Their main goal in the creation of the show was to ensure that the show didn’t glamorize the lifestyle of Escobar and his co-leaders of the Medellin Cartel. At that time at the DEA, agents weren’t allowed to bring their children when they were transferred to Colombia but Steve’s wife Connie was able to come along.
She enjoyed her time in Colombia despite the very real price put on the head of her husband. This is because she was a nurse and enjoyed the excitement that went along with being a triage nurse. The pair has two adopted daughters from Colombia and binge watched all of Narcos together.
11 Colonel Hugo Martinez
In 1992, Colombian authorities launched Search Bloc in hopes of battling the enormous rise in the Colombian drug trafficking game. Colonel Hugo Martinez was at the helm of it all when the three different special operations forces of the National Police of Colombia joined together to form Search Bloc. They were originally organized to focus solely on the capture and dismantling of the drug cartels that were torturing Colombians in the early ‘90s.
At one point in Martinez’s time heading up Search Bloc, a former police officer was sent to the home of Martinez to offer him $6 million for inside information about the movements in Search Bloc. The unspoken agreement was that either he took the money and switched sides from the police to the narcos or he would be killed.
Martinez chose the latter and went on to help find and assassinate Pablo Escobar, stifling the Medellin Cartel and meeting the goal of Search Bloc at the time.
Limon, also known as The Lemon, was Pablo Escobar’s bodyguard and the last person to see him before he was gunned down in machine gunfire from police. Escobar was found while in hiding because of a phone triangulation used by the Brigadier Hugo Martinez. The kingpin was hiding in Los Olivos which is a barrio in Medellin with Limon who was standing guard when the police started moving in.
Limon and Escobar escaped onto the Colombian rooftops and began running from the mass numbers of police closing in on them. The two jumped from roof to roof evading shot until the police fired up the machine guns and opened fire at will. At some point during this time, both Limon and Escobar were shot dead but there is speculation whether or not it was police bullets that took their lives.
Escobar always said that he would shoot himself just above the ear if he was going to be killed by someone else’s bullets, and that is the location of the fatal shot that took his life. Who fired it, we might never know.
9 Valeria Velez
Anchorwoman, author, journalist and known mistress to Pablo Escobar, the character Valeria Velez from Narcos is based on the real life of Virginia Vallejo. The media personality and socialite met Escobar and the two quickly took up a five-year love affair that ended in 1987. After the death of her former lover and drug lord, Vallejo testified in some very high profile cases for the Department of Justice.
In testifying she put her life in danger because she fingered Colombian politicians and presidents in their supporting drug cartels and even murder. The United States granted Vallejo asylum if she testified against Alberto Santofimio in the assassination of Luis Carlos Galan.
This action was taken after most of the key witnesses in the case against Santofimio, known acquaintance of Pablo Escobar and former politician were murdered or disappeared. One year later (2007) the political asylee released her memoir entitled Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar. The book promised lots of dirt on famous Colombians and was a Spanish language best seller for many months.
8 Pacho Herrera
Fourth in command in the Cali cartel in 1983, Herrera helped open up multiple drug tunnels from Colombia to Mexico. After being born in Colombia and studying technical maintenance, Herrera got a job in the United States.
While in the states he became a jeweller before getting in on the lucrative business of dealing cocaine in New York City. Pacho went down to Cali, Colombia to negotiate the distribution and supply rights from Colombia to New York City and was soon heavily involved in the operation. Herrera was also a very talented money launderer according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
It was all well and good until the DEA launched Operation Kingpin in November of 1991 and began targeting two distribution cells that Herrera had established in New York City. After Operation Kingpin ended, the feds had seized over 2.5 tons of cocaine and arrested over 100 traffickers.
7 Pablo Escobar
The life of Pablo Escobar is quite well known and has always been great fodder for those that love lively stories filled with drama and intrigue. Born in Rionegro, Colombia Escobar grew up near Medellin and briefly studied at University until getting involved in criminal activity.
He quickly rose to kingpin status and grew a drug trafficking cartel with some partners and became the most sought after criminal in the world for a brief time. Aside from his work as a narco Escobar was elected as an alternate member of the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia and hoped to do much good work for the people of the nation.
Despite being a murderous warlord who transferred countless drugs across country and state lines Pablo Escobar was also very involved in the community. Escobar was at the helm of countless hospitals, schools and churches in Western Colombia which was how he became so popular with the people of the country despite pissing off most of the police.
6 Hermilda Gaviria
Not only was Hermilda Gaviria the mother of Pablo Escobar, she was also his biggest fan. Although he was responsible for so much devastation and murder among the Colombian people she never faltered in believing that he was a good man.
This belief stemmed from her idea that acts of charity deleted acts of wickedness, she remained his most vocal supporter until her death in 2006. Right in the same town where her beloved baby boy was murdered Hermilda Gaviria passed away from old age just 13 years after her son’s death. She remained in Medellin, Colombia until her dying day to be near the grave of her son.
Until the day that she died Hermilda Gaviria visited Pablo Escobar’s grave every single morning. The devoted mother once claimed that she would never view her son as a criminal and would always be proud to be his mother. Pablo was the third born child of seven total children born to Hermilda and her farmer husband Abel de Jesus Escobar.
5 La Quica
La Quica was a terrifying hit man for the Medellin cartel, his legal name is Dandeny Munoz Mosquera. La Quica took credit for many deaths including a huge act of terrorism in making a plane crash down that took the lives of 110 citizens. At least one DEA agent refers to La Quica as the “Al Capone of the drug murder circuit” and he was oft thought as the chief assassin for the formidable drug lords.
Mosquera was arrested in New York City in 1991 for traveling with a fake passport, convicted and sentenced to six years in jail. While in jail the DEA continued to build a case against him and eventually he was tried for tons of counts of trafficking, racketeering, murder and bombing of a civilian airliner.
Though his first trial was a mistrial but in his second trial he was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 45 years plus 10 life sentences.
4 Javier Pena
In 1984 Javier Pena joined the DEA and four years later was transferred to Bogota, Colombia. Pena was raised in Kingsville, Texas and went to school nearby where he got his degree in Sociology/Psychology. When he joined the DEA the Colombian drug trade was exploding and the officer actually volunteered to go right into the heart of it all.
The Texas native and his partner Steve Murphy worked together to cultivate quality leads and find informants to help the Colombian National Police finally crack the case on the drug trafficking Narcos wreaking havoc on the citizens of the nation. When Pena was sent to Colombia he had never heard of Escobar but once he arrived in the country he realized very quickly the gravity of the man he was dealing with.
Pena credits Escobar with taking anywhere from 10-15,000 lives and does admit that much of his passion for hunting the criminal was based on revenge.
3 Gustavo Gaviria
The cousin and right-hand man of Pablo Escobar was shot and killed in a face off with Colombian police in early August of 1990. He worked primarily as the financial head of the Medellin Cartel and was often referred to as the brain of the organization.
Gaviria and Escobar collaborated on the drug trafficking venture in 1970 and stood side by side as their fortunes grew. Although Gaviria was just as rich as Escobar, he was known for keeping a low profile and not flaunting his wealth like his compadres.
There was a lot of conspiracy surrounding the shootout that took Gaviria’s life, many think it was a job carried out by Search Bloc that was covered up. Pablo Escobar did not take the death well and became even more paranoid about kidnappers and assassins. He was inundated with paranoia that Escobar didn’t even attend his cousin’s funeral, instead, he sent his assistant to attach a radio to the priest so that he could listen in.
2 César Gaviria
Cesar Gaviria was President of Colombia as a Liberal party candidate in 1991. He led many runs against the Cali drug cartel and other guerrillas in the country. The clean politician was supposed to be on flight Avianca Flight 203 along with over 100 other passengers.
On Pablo Escobar’s orders, this plane was brought down, but Gaviria never got on. Gaviria on board or not the flight did go down killing over 100 innocent citizens. This hit was ordered because Cesar Gaviria was against the drug cartels and their influence on the nation, he approved many orders to dismantle the Medellin Cartel by picking off one leader at a time.
In fact, Gaviria was the debate chief to Luis Carlos Galan who was gunned down while running for president in 1989. Despite this being a tragedy for which another politician would take the fall, Gaviria ended up taking over the office of the presidency after the assassination.
1 Alberto Santofimio (Fernando Duque in Narcos)
This Colombian politician is a member of the Colombian Liberal Party who also served as the Minister of Justice, the character of Fernando Duque is loosely based on the life of this politician. Santofimio served as senator and also ran twice for president.
Although he didn’t win those races the political hopeful was actually a shoe-in for the position in 1982. However, instead of running that year he decided to let his boss Alfonso Lopez Michelsen run for election and stepped down from the nomination.
Santofimio was mentioned in tons of local gossip in relation to Luis Carlos Galan so he was investigated in his murder but hitman “Popeye” testified that he had nothing to do with it. After years in jail “Popeye” was a changed man and recanted his testimony. Santofimio is serving his sentence in Colombia and was found to have two more connections to murders in the drug-torn country.