We have Netflix to thank for the fact that everyone seems to know everything about Pablo Escobar today. However, there is a side to this drug kingpin's story everyone seems to miss: Maria Victoria Henao Escobar's story.
When you are married to a criminal heavyweight like Pablo, you are bound to get famous regardless of how laid back you are. Although the "King of Cocaine" got all the attention, Maria Escobar also had an interesting life few people know about.
She started as a good girl, but Escobar's influence rubbed off on her, apparently. Today, she lives under an alias to escape the negative effects of her husband's reputation as a ruthless drug lord.
Maria Met Pablo When She Was 12, And Married Him At 15
Carlos, Maria's brother, was a drug trafficker, and she met Pablo thinking he was one of her brother's friends.
She was 12 at the time, having been born in 1961. She fell in love with the future drug lord, who was then 23.
Pablo was born in 1949, and he showed signs of a defiant life from early on. Apparently, he faked diplomas, smuggled stereo equipment, and falsified report cards in addition to stealing gravestones.
He went further and started selling drugs, stealing cars, and running scams. In 1975, he began the process of setting up his drug empire.
Naturally, her parents were not crazy about the relationship, especially after learning that Pablo had criminal connections. However, in just two years, they had given the couple their blessing.
When the two married in a church, Maria was just 15, and family members from either side did not attend the ceremony.
On her first day after the marriage, she went to school, and after coming back home, she had to do homework, cook, clean, and do the dishes. She believed she was married to a real estate professional, and she loved him.
According to her, Escobar was a gentleman who made her feel like a princess.
Maria Realized That Escobar Wasn't A Real Estate Mogul
After his arrest in 1977, Maria Escobar realized that she might not know her husband as much as she thought she did. Although he pleaded innocent to the charges leveled against him, she was sure that her husband was involved in illegal activities.
When Maria got involved with him, she could never have guessed that he was the leader of the Medellin Cartel. Although murders went through the roof during his reign, he favored the community through his development projects.
She was drawn to his dreams of helping the community.
But after learning that he was a big drug criminal, she was immediately aware that her life and that of her kids was going to be a difficult one, especially after learning that he was behind the assassinations of two main political figures in Columbia and the blowing up of a commercial airline.
Leaving was also not an option: her husband had powerful enemies who would come after her, and he himself was a force to reckon with.
Pablo Escobar was a criminal unlike any that the world had ever seen, and he managed to get unbelievable amounts of wealth from his efforts.
At the time he passed away in 1993 during a shootout with the police, it is believed he had $30 billion from his illicit operations, which amounts to $64 billion in purchasing power in 2021. That should not be surprising considering that he controlled about 80 percent of the global cocaine market.
He shipped about 70 to 80 tons of cocaine from Colombia to the U.S. per month. Pablo would make about $420 million a week in his prime.
Life With Pablo Wasn't Easy, It Came With Many Open Affairs
Pablo had many affairs, but the couple still managed to have two kids: Juan Pablo and Manuela. Pablo took her virginity at 14. He openly had affairs and made her get an abortion at this young age. After they got married, he even built apartments where he would have illicit affairs.
As you can imagine, in some ways, Maria had it all.
With her rich husband making truckloads of money, she could afford nice cars and other shiny and beautiful things money can buy.
In 2019, she released her autobiography. Apparently, it was important for her to tell her side of the story, especially so that her children and grandson can understand what she went through.
In the book, she confesses that she had to withstand cheating, insults, death threats, kidnapping attempts, loneliness, and lies for the sake of love. She was also unable to leave out of fear that bad things would happen to her and her children if she tried.
According to her, she disagreed with him on many occasions, but he always had his way. There wasn't much she could do as she was nothing more than a hostage in his life. She could not think, decide, or question the first and only love of her life.
After all, this was a man who had one of his many mistresses executed after she told on him. He had forced the woman to have an abortion, and she was so unhappy with the decision so she turned against him.
Life On The Run
When Maria's husband passed away in 1993, her situation obviously changed radically. For the first time as an adult, she was on her own. She was also mourning him at a time when everyone was celebrating his brutal death.
Maria was also in danger, and at some point, the government offered her protection in a hotel room floor she had bought.
Mafia gangs in Colombia were putting her under a lot of pressure. The police also believed that she must know plenty about her husband's business and could not leave her alone.
All she wanted was to get out of the country, but her husband's reputation made it hard for any country to accept her and her children.
The family had to move from one country to another. Eventually, she got permission to live in Argentina, and she went there pretending to be on holiday from Mozambique.
However, this trip was significant because she changed her name to Maria Isabel Santos Caballero. Her kids had also changed their names to Juan Sebastian Marroquin Santos and Juana Manuela Marroquin Santos.
To this day, she lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with her children.
Trouble In Argentina
Obviously, her life changed quite a bit in a different country. She became a designer, but after five years, she was arrested along with her son.
The two were suspected of being involved in money laundering connected to the sale of drugs. However, they were later released when the authorities could not get enough evidence.
That was in 1999, and almost two decades later, in 2018, she was again arrested along with her son for money laundering. However, this time, there was some incriminating evidence, and her son was accused of selling drugs for Jose Piedrahita, a Colombian mafia boss.
Apparently, Maria and her son were once stripped of $1 million.
Argentina is not known for speedy trials, and this trial might take several years to settle.
Back in 2014, Juan had released a book about his father. It was titled Pablo Escobar: My Father, and it was published under his real name.
As you know, the life of Pablo Escobar has been turned into a hit Netflix series, Narcos.
Maria Escobar Today
Needless to say, there is more to Maria Escobar than most people think. She might have seemed like a victim in the past, but she is proving to be a lot more than that with the drama around her life.
She also appeared in a Spanish-language documentary, Tata: Escobar's Widow, in 2019.
Regarding the charges she is facing in Argentina, she insists that she is innocent and that the country is trying to look serious about its war on drugs by leveraging her connection to Pablo Escobar.
Today, she confesses that she feels deep sadness and shame for being married to a man who brought so much pain to many people's lives. Maria is always on the run from governments and her husband's enemies.
However, she has clarified that she didn't have "such a good life" when living with the world-famous drug kingpin. She also asked for forgiveness for what she did in her youth while married to a famous criminal.