"The story of how U.S. Army Intelligence and Delta Force commandos helped Colombian police track down and kill Pablo Escobar. . . . A compelling, almost Shakespearean tale." Los Angeles Times
The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw
978-0-8021-2378-7 • $17.00 • Paperback • July 2015
“A master of narrative journalism, [Bowden] employs the same techniques of reconstructing scenes and dialogue that made his bestselling Black Hawk Down gripping reading.” Linda Robinson, New York Times Book Review
On July 22, 1992, drug lord Pablo Escobar walked out of the luxurious prison he built for himself and disappeared into the Colombian jungle. His audacious escape destroyed the nation¹s tenuous cease-fire with its infamous narcos, and pushed it into open war with the Medellín drug cartel.
Over the coming days and weeks, the United States would launch a joint military and intelligence operation with the Colombian government, assembling a team of expert personnel and an arsenal of state-of-the-art weaponry and surveillance technology the likes of which the world had never seen. Their mission: to track down Pablo. But this time, nobody was interested in capturing him. This time, they intended to finish the job.
This time, they were going to kill him.
Killing Pablo is the inside story of the brutal rise and violent fall of Colombian cocaine cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar, whose criminal empire held a nation of thirty million hostagea reign of terror that would end only with his death. In an intense, up-close account, best-selling author and award-winning journalist Mark Bowden exposes the never-before-revealed details of how U.S. operatives covertly led the sixteen-month manhunt.
Drawing on unprecedented access to the soldiers, field agents, and officials involved in the chase, as well as hundreds of pages of top-secret documents and transcripts of Escobar¹s intercepted phone conversations, Bowden creates a gripping narrative that reads as if it were torn from the pages of a military technothriller. At every phase, he brings to life the men who brought the drug lord down. There is the Colombian president, César Gaviria, afraid for his life and the future of his nation, who is forced to do the unthinkable: allow a foreign military to operate within his country¹s borders. There is the U.S. ambassador, Morris D. Busby, who brings in the most sophisticated surveillance team in the world, code-named Centra Spike, and the best team of manhunters, the mysterious Delta Force. And there is the leader of the Colombian forces, Colonel Hugo Martinez, an incorruptible man who lives under constant threat during the drug lord’s reignand whose own son plays a critical role on the fateful day when Pablo is finally found.
Bowden’s last book, the New York Times best-seller Black Hawk Down, was hailed by critics (David Halberstam called it “a brilliant book, a heartbreaking story wonderfully well toldit’s everything I admire”) and became a finalist for the National Book Award. In Killing Pablo, Bowden’s reportage achieves a new level, his narrative an epic scope. Action-packed and unputdownable, Killing Pablo is a tour de force of investigative journalism and a stark portrayal of rough justice in the real world.
Rough Justice in the Real WorldPablo Escobar: By the end of 1989, Escobar was forty years old and the most powerful criminal in the world. He had killed police chiefs, judges, presidential candidates, and Colombian Supreme Court justices, and even shot a commercial airliner out of the sky. To the men of America’s secret counterterrorism community, the ruthless “doper” from Medellín had become a clear and present danger.
Colonel Hugo Martinez: Heading the search for Pablo was a job Martinez had never sought or desired. Nobody wanted it. It was considered so dangerous that the national police decided to rotate the command monthly, like a hot potato.
A Victim of Los Pepes: After the frustration of the first six months, the manhunt needed to shift gears. If Pablo stood atop an organizational mountain that consisted of family, bankers, assassins, and lawyers, then perhaps the only way to get him was to take down the mountain. That’s when the death squad Los Pepes appeared, killing as many as six of Pablo’s associates every day. Los Pepes were so perfect they were . . . well, too perfect.