December 25, 1989 12:00 PM

Most Americans wouldn’t recognize Pablo Escobar Gaviria, although they see him every day. When a kid smokes crack, there’s Pablo. When Miami cops bust a dealer, there’s Pablo. When a politician is murdered in Colombia, a baby born addicted to drugs in New York City or another celeb booked into rehab, Pablo is there, too. A sure sense of the market has been very good to Pablo: At 40, the Colombian cocaine kingpin and leader of the Medellín cartel is estimated to be earning about $6.4 million dollars a day.

As ruthless as he is rich, Escobar is suspected of ordering the executions of scores of rivals, politicians and judges in his homeland. The assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán last August set Colombia to all-out war against its drug lords; one measure of Escobar’s notoriety is that of the 80 top “extraditable” drug gangsters, only el padrino, “the godfather,” and his Medellin cartel associate, Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, have government prices on their heads: $250,000 each. Escobar hasn’t yet lost his freedom, but he has lost, through government confiscation, boats, planes, cars and houses, including his cherished Hacienda Napoles, which boasts huge dinosaur replicas and a wildlife park open to the public.

Escobar is thought to be hiding somewhere in the Amazon. The countless lives he has wrecked are there with him.

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