Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw is an account of the manhunt for the leader of the Columbian Medellin cocaine cartel, Pablo Escobar. During the 1980’s and until his death at age 44 in 1993 Escobar was one of the richest - and most ruthless - narco terrorists in the world. His power and the fear it engendered made it obvious from the beginning that the mission of the hunters was not to capture, but to kill. The author, St. Louis native Mark Bowden interviewed dozens of political, military, and law enforcement personnel in the United States and Columbia who were involved in the hunt. He seamlessly blends their stories into a frightening glimpse of a man whose business philosophy was simple in the extreme: those who opposed him had two choices: “plata o plomo”, silver (bribes) or lead (death).
As he did in his previous book Black Hawk Down, Bowden has combined his skill as an investigative reporter with his extraordinary storytelling ability. As the title suggests, Killing Pablo is not about how the justice system in either country (should) work. Bowden spares no one on either side of the struggle. It is difficult sometimes to differentiate between Escobar’s hubris and almost unbelievable cruelty and the methods and tactics employed by law enforcement and the military in both countries to find him. After reading Killing Pablo it’s not difficult to understand the motivations driving Escobar’s hunters and share in their triumph when they finally find him. More difficult is deciding whether the end of Pablo Escobar justified the means used to accomplish it.