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Pablo Escobar (1949-1993), leader of Colombia's Medellin Cartel, was the world's most prominent cocaine trafficker in the 1980s. In 1989, Forbes magazine estimated that he was the seventh richest man in the world. Escobar died in a 1993 shootout with Colombian police.

For a time in the 1980s, Escobar used the phenomenal profits of the drug trade to build his Medellin Cartel into a force seemingly more powerful than the Colombian government. When Colombian and American forces raided Medellin Cartel production facilities in 1984, destroying more than $1 billion worth of cocaine, Escobar retaliated by killing Colombia's Minister of Justice and 11 of the country's Supreme Court justices. Escobar's reign of terror only ended in 1993, when he was killed in a shootout with Colombian police.

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