Profiles in Scourges: Pablo Escobar

You know the name, but you probably don't really know much about drug lord Pablo Escobar. Now you can read the short version of how he clawed his way up the ladder in the cocaine business.
The profits were astronomical at every step. In 1978 each kilo probably cost Escobar $2,000 but sold to Lehder and Jung for $22,000, clearing Escobar $20,000 per kilo. In the next stage they transported an average of 400 kilos to south Florida (incurring some additional expenses in hush money for local airport authorities) where mid-level dealers paid a wholesale price of $60,000 per kilo; thus in 1978 each 400-kilo load earned Escobar $8 million and Lehder, Ochoa, and Jung $5 million each in profits. Of course the mid-level dealers did just fine: after cutting the drug with baking soda each shipment retailed on the street for $210 million, almost ten times what they paid for it.

Soon Lehder was hiring American pilots to fly a steady stream of cocaine into the U.S., paying them $400,000 per trip. At one trip per week, in 1978 this translated into wholesale revenues of $1.3 billion and profits of $1 billion.

The profits and risks soared after that. The Jung in the quote is American George Jung, whose story was told in the 2001 film Blow. Read the rest of Escobar's astonishing biography at mental_floss. Link

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