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Pablo Escobar Sees Options Narrow


January 1993

Once powerful fugitive Medellin cartel leader Pablo Escobar is apparently increasingly isolated, as former associates have surrendered to police and others have defected to the rival Cali cartel (Don Podesta, "Colombia Picks Off Escobar's Drug Gang, Narrows His Options," Washington Post, 12/21/92, A14).

Escobar has been the subject of a massive manhunt after he escaped from a custom-built luxury prison in July, humiliating Colombian leaders who had arranged for the special prison. After the escape, it became apparent that authorities were no longer prepared to bargain with Escobar, a factor that led to the rapid dissolution of his influence in the cocaine business. He has continued to elude capture, however, despite surrender or capture of many of his associates.

Once viewed by many as a folk hero, Escobar's public stock has apparently plunged as violence linked to an unholy alliance between leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers has taken an increasingly deadly and socially disruptive toll (Don Podesta, "Colombians Lash Out At Violence: Public Backs War on Cartels, Rebels," Washington Post, 12/5/92, A33). As of December 1992, nearly 500 police and soldiers have died at the hands of guerrillas and dozens more have been killed by drug traffickers. It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between guerrilla and trafficker violence, according to the Washington Post's Don Podesta.