Pablo Escobar was the most notorious drug lord the world has ever seen. He became one of the ten richest men on the planet and controlled 80 per cent of the global cocaine trade before he was shot dead in 1993.
This is the long-awaited autobiography of his eldest son, Roberto Sendoya Escobar.
His story opens with two helicopter gunships, filled with heavily armed Colombian Special forces personnel led by an MI6 agent, flying into a small village on the outskirts of Bogota in Colombia. The secret mission to recover a stolen cash hoard, culminates in a bloody shoot-out with a group of young Pablo Escobar’s violent gangsters. Several of the men escape, including the young Escobar.
As the dust settles in the house, only a little baby is left alive. His distressing cries can be heard as his young mother lies dead beside him. That baby is the author, Roberto Sendoya Escobar. In a bizarre twist of fate, the top MI6 agent who led the mission, takes pity on the child and, eventually, ends up adopting him.
Over the years, during his rise to prominence as the most powerful drug lord the world has ever known, Pablo Escobar tries, repeatedly, to kidnap his son. Flanked by his trusty bodyguards, the child, unaware of his true identity, is allowed regular meetings with Escobar and it becomes apparent that the British government is working covertly with the gangster in an attempt to control the money laundering and drug trades.
Life becomes so dangerous, however, that the author is packed off from the family mansion in Bogota to an English public school. Many years later in England, as Roberto’s adopted father lies dying in hospital, he hands his son a coded piece of paper which, he says, reveals the secret hiding place of the ‘Escobar Missing millions’ the world has been searching for!
The code is published in this book for the first time.
I am thrilled to be able to share an extract of the book with you now:
CHAPTER 1: THE SECRET MISSION
Facatativá, Colombia, late October 1965
The two helicopters appeared with the rising sun.
Each spanking new US Bell UH-1 ‘Huey’ was armed with two M134 miniguns capable of preset firing rates of 2,000 rpm, each linked to four thousand rounds of ammunition. They were also equipped with two M75 40-mm grenade-rocket launchers, both fed from a three-hundred-round magazine.
Aboard each were six newly trained Colombian special forces personnel. Sitting in the front passenger seat of the leading chopper was the man in charge. Pat Witcomb, a tall, powerful-looking Englishman, looked as incongruous as the two aircraft flying low over an otherwise peaceful countryside. They were three thousand metres above sea level, yet only five hundred metres above the ground. Pat could scarcely believe he was leading this mission. Before he joined De La Rue, a respectable banknote printer and security company established in London in the nineteenth century, he had barely set foot in a helicopter. Since then, the operations with which he had been tasked had grown increasingly dangerous. Almost of all of his training had been on the job itself.
He had swiftly discovered that Colombia was a violent country. Recently, one of his armoured cars had been blown up, killing two security guards and injuring others. This was one of
the worst incidents to affect De La Rue, which had been tasked with securely printing Colombia’s currency and transporting it safely around the country. The vehicle had been destroyed in the course of making a delivery and the incident had major ramifications for the firm. It wasn’t just a question of the money that was stolen – although it wasn’t an insignificant sum, running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars – but the message it sent out. The various gangs jockeying for power and influence would believe they could attack De La Rue with impunity and, by extension, they were hitting the heart of Colombia’s economy itself. There had to be a firm response and once the firm received intelligence about the gang’s whereabouts they were determined to strike back.
The pilot, sitting beside Pat, pointed to a cluster of dwellings on the hillside ahead. Pat compared the sight before him with the aerial photographs provided. He nodded. They were here.
He glanced at the soldiers manning the machine gun and rocket launchers in the doorway and back to the other gunners in the second helicopter. He turned to the men behind, whose excited chatter had been constant since they left the country’s capital city, Bogotá, and gave a thumbs-up. They clocked Pat’s signal and as one fell silent, clutching their weapons in anticipation. Before they had set off Pat had thought the set-up he was commanding would be a sledgehammer cracking a nut and, as he looked again at the sleepy village ahead, his view was only confirmed. His targets wouldn’t know what hit them.
‘Hawk Two, this is Hawk One, over,’ Pat said in clipped tones over the radio.
‘Hawk One, Hawk Two, over,’ came the accented response from his counterpart in the aircraft behind, a stocky man with a heavily pockmarked face. This was Manuel Noriega, then just an officer with the Panamanian military, but even at that point extremely ambitious. Seconded to the intelligence efforts in Colombia, he had been a useful ally to Pat in the shadowy meeting place where state business and private enterprise shared a common interest. Now Noriega seemed to be relishing joining in on the action.
‘Hawk Two, we have visual on the target. Prepare to attack.’
‘Roger Hawk One. Out.’
They dropped to a hundred and fifty feet and Pat gestured towards a small clearing ahead of the first house, radioing his intention to Noriega, who he always referred to by his codename ‘JB’, a reference to his favourite whiskey brand, Justerini & Brooks. His eyes fixed on a rundown house with a single, small door to the street. Movement in the house next door caught his eye. Two shabbily dressed men appeared. He could see the terror on their faces as they scurried back inside.
The blast from the rotors kicked up a cloud of dust. As the choppers touched down, the soldiers jumped from the side and headed straight for the house. They only got a few yards when
the two men reappeared in the doorway, this time with assault rifles. But before they had even cocked their weapons a round of gunfire from the advancing troops floored them. More gunfire followed, as a face at a window was greeted with an avalanche of bullets.
‘So much for minimal casualties,’ Pat shouted to JB above the roar of the blades, as they took in the action, standing to the rear and flanked by two, blue-uniformed, close protection
officers, or bodyguards.
JB shrugged. ‘I told you, if they want a war, they’ll get one.’
The soldiers split up into groups, some heading to the rear of the target property, others charging through the front door, while other units tackled neighbouring buildings. Gunfire
Pat respected his enemy as he looked around. They had chosen an unlikely hideout. Yet the response from the gang told him without a doubt that their intelligence had been perfect. It might look like a backwater –unremarkable farmer country – but this was one harvest worth fighting for.