A Deadly Manhunt Guided by The U.S.

  A Deadly Manhunt Guided by The U.S.

Posted by FoM on November 11, 2000 at 14:32:26 PT
By Mark Bowden, Inquirer Staff Writer 
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer 

Eight years ago, at the request of the Colombian government, U.S. military and spy forces helped fund and guide a massive manhunt that ended with the killing of Pablo Escobar, the richest cocaine trafficker in the world. While portraying the pursuit of Escobar as essentially a Colombian operation, the United States secretly spent millions of dollars and committed elite soldiers, law enforcement agents and the military's most sophisticated electronic eavesdropping unit to the chase.
The full extent of the U.S. role has never before been made public. Details of the 15-month operation, which began during the administration of President George Bush and continued under President Clinton, are revealed in a serial beginning in The Inquirer today.A two-year Inquirer investigation has found that:The Army's top secret counterterrorism unit, Delta Force, along with a clandestine Army electronic surveillance team, tracked the movements of Escobar and his associates and helped plan raids by a special Colombian police unit called the Search Bloc. The former American ambassador to Colombia directed the U.S. effort with assistance from agents of the CIA, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and National Security Agency.Midway through the operation, the Search Bloc began collaborating with vigilantes, who assassinated Escobar's associates and relatives. U.S. soldiers and agents said they witnessed the cooperation. The United States continued to supply intelligence, training and planning to the Search Bloc even as the assassinations continued.In November 1993, Pentagon officials sought to end U.S. involvement in the manhunt. They were concerned that American forces in Colombia were going beyond their instructions and possibly violating a presidential directive prohibiting American involvement in assassinations of foreign citizens. The campaign to withdraw the U.S. personnel was stalled by a lobbying effort led by the American ambassador in Bogota. Five weeks later, Escobar was killed by Colombian police.Official accounts at the time said Escobar, 44, was killed Dec. 2, 1993, in a gun battle on a rooftop in the city of Medellin. Autopsy reports and photos reveal that he was shot point-blank in the ear. A senior Colombian National Police commander said Escobar was executed by a member of the Search Bloc after being wounded. The Colombian government had said its aim was to arrest Escobar, an indicted criminal.The mission to track down Escobar rid Colombia of a violent menace who threatened to topple the state. Escobar had terrorized his country beginning in 1984 - assassinating judges, police officers, journalists and politicians. Much of the violence was meant to coerce the Colombian government to ban extradition of drug traffickers to the United States. Escobar was believed to have ordered the killings of three of the five candidates for president of Colombia in 1989.But eliminating Escobar did nothing to stem the flow of cocaine to the United States, and may have inadvertently contributed to the formation of "super cartels" - alliances among guerrillas, growers, paramilitaries and traffickers that today threaten the government of Colombia. Those alliances are one target of the $1.3 billion in U.S. anti-narcotics aid to Colombia this year, which includes 300 American troops training Colombian security forces.American involvement in the hunt for Escobar began in 1989, when President Bush authorized a secret military effort to help Colombia track down leaders of the Medellin cocaine cartel. Its code name was Heavy Shadow.Centra Spike, a top-secret Army unit that specialized in tracking people by monitoring telephone and radio calls, was covertly sent to Colombia in August of that year.The sophisticated surveillance helped chase Escobar into hiding and a life on the run. He surrendered to Colombian authorities in 1991 after negotiating a deal that allowed him to live with his closest associates in a comfortable "prison" built for him in his hometown of Envigado, near Medellin.Escobar fled the prison on July 22, 1992, when Colombian authorities tried to move him to a real prison. After he disappeared, Colombian President Cesar Gaviria asked the United States to expand its assistance. Bush authorized the clandestine deployment of Delta Force and other U.S. personnel, and the multimillion-dollar effort continued during the Clinton administration until Escobar's death.Public statements by U.S. officials during the manhunt acknowledged that American forces had helped train the Colombian Search Bloc. But American involvement in the effort was far more extensive than that.Participants said that secret U.S. contributions totaled hundreds of millions of dollars in hardware, personnel and cash. At its height, with all these forces assembled under Ambassador Morris D. Busby and CIA station chief Bill Wagner, Bogota was the largest CIA station in the world.The hunt for Escobar took an ugly turn in February 1993, when a vigilante group calling itself Los Pepes (Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar, or People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar) embarked on a campaign of murder and bombings.The vigilantes burned Escobar's mansions and luxury cars and began methodically killing off lawyers, bankers, money-launderers, assassins and relatives who helped him maintain his cocaine empire. In so doing, the vigilantes made a key contribution - stripping away the infrastructure of Escobar's organization and leaving him isolated and afraid for his family.In communiques, Los Pepes said it was composed of relatives of people murdered or terrorized by Escobar. The vigilantes hung a sign around the neck of one victim that read: "For working with the narco-terrorist and baby-killer Pablo Escobar. For Colombia. Los Pepes."The Search Bloc's methods were no less brutal. So many of its targets were killed, rather than arrested, that American officials came to regard the phrase "Killed in a gun battle with the Colombian police" as a euphemism for summary execution.Busby, then the U.S. ambassador, and Colombian Gen. Hugo Martinez, the Search Bloc commander, both deny that the hunt for Escobar was tainted by cooperation with Los Pepes, who at their busiest were killing as many as five people a day. The group assassinated an estimated 300 people. No one was ever prosecuted for these murders.Martinez said in interviews that he and his men had no association with Los Pepes, whom he called a "nuisance.""They made more trouble for us than help," said Martinez, who survived numerous attempts on his life and on his family. He said he turned down a $6 million bribe from Escobar to abandon the chase.Busby said he had been told of evidence that the Search Bloc and Los Pepes were working together, but never found it convincing. He said that if he had believed the two groups were linked, "it would have been a show-stopper. We would have pulled everybody out of the country. I communicated that directly to the Colombian president."The evidence Busby had seen was detailed in a secret cable he wrote on Aug. 1, 1993. In it, the ambassador said that Colombia's top prosecutor had told him he had "very good" evidence of a connection. Busby also said that "our own reporting" suggested a link.Separate DEA cables from the embassy noted the connection between the Search Bloc and a leader of Los Pepes.Busby, in an interview, said he had not seen the DEA cables and that DEA agents and Delta Force operatives never informed him of the interactions they witnessed between members of the Search Bloc and Los Pepes. He said he still does not believe the Search Bloc and the vigilantes were connected.In a series of interviews, former Colombian President Gaviria, now general secretary of the Organization of American States, said he suspected ties between his police generals and Los Pepes. "I was very concerned there was a connection," Gaviria said. "I spoke out against Los Pepes very strongly from the beginning, but I feared there was a connection with the police. I think the police felt they were very close to getting Escobar, and maybe they went ahead because of that."Colombian Fiscal General Gustavo de Greiff, the equivalent of the U.S. attorney general, had more than suspicions. During the summer of 1993, he told U.S. officials in Bogota that he had strong evidence that Martinez and several top officers of the Search Bloc were working with Los Pepes. He said the evidence was sufficient to charge them with bribery, drug trafficking, torture, kidnapping and possibly murder.Busby relayed this information to Washington in his secret cable of Aug. 1, 1993. The ambassador expressed misgivings about the sources of de Greiff's information. Many of the allegations, he wrote, were made by "ex-Escobar assassins" trying to discredit the Search Bloc.Nevertheless, Busby said, he had urged de Greiff and the Colombian defense minister to immediately remove Martinez and the other officers, and had threatened to withdraw American support if they failed to do so. Busby said he wanted to "remove the taint from the anti-Escobar effort."Contrary advice was being offered by Joe Toft, the DEA chief in Bogota. In a cable written two days after Busby's, Toft said he had urged Colombian officials to keep Martinez in place. The message reads in part: "The BCO" - Bogota Country Office, meaning the U.S. Embassy - "continues to support Colonel Martinez and his subordinates."Martinez remained commander of the Search Bloc. Neither he nor any member of the unit was ever prosecuted, and U.S. support for the Escobar manhunt never wavered.Colombian Police Col. Oscar Naranjo, then intelligence chief of the National Police and now chief of analysis for the Ministry of Defense, said in an interview that Los Pepes had worked closely with the Search Bloc."The Pepes were a desperate option after Pablo Escobar had generated so much violence in Medellin," Naranjo said. "Old partners of Escobar's got together to offer their services to the government. For the high-ranking officers of the police and government, their relationship with the Search Bloc was kept deliberately unclear, but people celebrated the actions of Los Pepes at all levels of the government. They and the Search Bloc acted on information gathered by the U.S. Embassy, and the Colombian army and police."Toft's Aug. 3, 1993, cable said: "At this point, according to de Greiff, police officials were probably already too deeply involved with Los Pepes to withdraw. The witnesses' testimony indicates that not only were some members of the Bloque and Los Pepes running joint operations, some of which resulted in kidnappings and possibly killings, but that the leadership of Los Pepes was calling the shots, rather than the police."There is other evidence of cooperation between the Search Bloc and Los Pepes.Fidel Castano, a colorful and ruthless Colombian paramilitary leader known as "Rambo" who at one time had helped Escobar ship cocaine and who was killed in 1994 fighting against Marxist guerrillas, acknowledged publicly to reporters before his death that he was a founding member of Los Pepes. He and his brothers turned against the drug boss after he murdered their associates, he said.In a dispatch to DEA headquarters on Feb. 22, 1993, DEA agent Javier Peña in Bogota identified Castano as "a cooperating individual who was once a trusted Pablo Escobar associate." Peña noted that Castano had valuable connections with the Colombian drug underworld. The cable went on to detail a recent Search Bloc raid on a suspected Escobar hideout that had been led by Castano.Castano's connection with the Search Bloc was noted in another DEA memo, written in September 1993 by agent Steve Murphy.A Colombian pilot and former drug trafficker, who asked to be identified only as Rubin, said he was associated with the death squad but stopped short of saying he was a member.Rubin said one leader of Los Pepes, a man he identified only as "Bernardo" or "Don Berna," had worked for two Medellin drug bosses who had been murdered by Escobar. Two DEA agents said they were familiar with Bernardo, who lived with other members of the group in a house just outside the gate to the Search Bloc headquarters in Medellin. They said they witnessed his regular association with Search Bloc commanders.Toft, who resigned as Bogota DEA chief months after Escobar was killed to protest growing links between drug dealers and the Colombian government, said the entire effort to track down Escobar was tainted by association with criminal elements."On the day Escobar was killed, there were all these celebrations in Bogota," Toft said. "I went to the parties. Everybody was drinking champagne and slapping each other on the back, and the whole time I had this knot in my stomach. I was happy we had gotten Escobar, but at what price? It took away a lot of the joy."As the manhunt intensified in 1993, two high-level Pentagon officials began to express concerns about potential violations of Presidential Executive Order 12333, which originated during the Nixon administration after congressional hearings exposed excesses in the intelligence community. It has been updated under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.The order states: "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination." It adds: "No agency of the Intelligence Community shall participate in or request any person to undertake activities forbidden by this Order."Concerns about potential violations of the order prompted Lt. Gen. Jack Sheehan of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to recommend the withdrawal all American military forces from Colombia in November 1993, just weeks before Escobar was killed. At the time, Sheehan was in charge of all U.S. military operations overseas.Sheehan said he made the recommendation after two CIA analysts briefed him at the Pentagon about suspected links between the Search Bloc, Los Pepes and American forces in Colombia.The analysts, according to Sheehan, noted that the tactics employed by Los Pepes were similar to those being taught to the Search Bloc by Delta Force; that intelligence gathered by U.S. forces was being shared with the death squads; and that Delta Force operatives were overstepping their deployment orders by accompanying Search Bloc members on raids.Sheehan's recommendation was supported by Brian Sheridan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for drug enforcement.When he learned of Sheehan's recommendation, Busby was angry. He said he "used my influence" in Washington to try to keep the troops in Colombia. According to Sheehan, the ambassador phoned the White House from Bogota and enlisted support from the National Security Council."They all lined up against pulling our guys out," Sheehan said. "I thought this thing had gone way past the original deployment order, and I didn't like the way it looked at all. For Busby and the others, it was an ends-justifies-the-means kind of thing. I was opposed to it, as was anyone who takes seriously the importance of civilian control over the military."Busby said he believed the CIA analysts who made the report to Sheehan had been "misinformed" about the seriousness of the evidence linking the Search Bloc and Los Pepes."We had made promises to President Gaviria that I felt we were obligated to keep," Busby said. "I was not about to abandon him at that late date. It was too important to him and us. I was also, frankly, angry that I had not been consulted." In the end, the Pentagon ordered the covert units in Colombia - Centra Spike and Delta Force - replaced by unclassifed special forces. The changeover had not been completed by the time Escobar was killed on Dec. 2, 1993.When Los Pepes had publicly surfaced earlier that year, Clinton had just assumed office. There is no indication that suspicions of American involvement with the vigilantes ever reached him.A senior Pentagon official said of the manhunt: "There's no question that things down there got ugly. Pablo Escobar was like a man standing on top of a mountain . . . consisting of every family member, business associate, friend and admirer he had built up over 40 years. And ultimately the only way to get at him was to take down the mountain, one person at a time, until Pablo had no place left to hide."A former American army officer who took part in the manhunt called the effect of Los Pepes "very significant.""They were stunning," he said. "There was no question in my mind that they were acting on information we gathered. It made it more and more difficult for him to hide. As more and more people were killed, he became terrified for his family. Ultimately, that was what enabled us to find him."Months after Escobar's death, former Bogota DEA chief Toft released surveillance tapes showing that cocaine traffickers in the Colombian city of Cali had helped finance the presidential campaign of Gaviria's successor, Ernesto Samper. Toft said he believed the hunt for Escobar actually helped create the alliances that today bedevil the country.Gaviria said that from his standpoint, "the battle against Pablo Escobar was never primarily about stopping drug smuggling."He was a very serious problem because he was so violent," the former president said. "He was a threat to the state. The level of terrorism we had to live with was something awful."Busby, who is retired from the State Department and works as a consultant, described the long pursuit of Escobar as highly secret, but also satisfying."Lots of things happened that no one is ever going to talk about," Busby said. "Nobody has ever really talked about this. I will say that in my long experience, I have never seen so many different American agencies, military and civilian, work together with such professionalism and efficiency. I'm really proud of that, and, let me tell you, at that point I would not have wanted to be Pablo Escobar."Part IIEscobar’s Escape Opens a Door For the Americans:By Mark Bowden, Inquirer Staff Writer Morris D. Busby, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, was awakened by two phone calls early Wednesday, July 22, 1992, at a house in Chevy Chase, Md., where he and his wife were staying with friends.The first call was to inform him that Colombian President Cesar Gaviria had finally decided to move the drug outlaw Pablo Escobar to a new prison, something Busby had been urging for more than a year. Shortly after that call came another, telling him that Escobar had somehow escaped through an entire brigade of the Colombian army.The ambassador had spent too much time in Colombia to be surprised. He cut his vacation short and, within hours, flew back to Bogota.Busby believed this bad turn of events for Colombia might be just the break he needed. Ever since he had been assigned to the embassy in Bogota the previous year, handpicked for the assignment in large part because it had become so dangerous, Busby had been eager to make an example of Escobar, but was frustrated by the drug boss' deal with the government.The most notorious drug trafficker in the world had been perched on a spectacular Andes mountaintop, running his cocaine business surrounded and protected by the Colombian army. Current estimates were that 70 to 80 tons of cocaine were being shipped from Colombia to the United States every month, and Escobar controlled the bulk of it.Inside his custom prison, Escobar lived like a sultan. There were parties with gourmet food and booze, beauty queens and whores. There were drugs, water beds and elaborate sound systems. Escobar ran his narcotics empire by phone. He ordered the murders of anyone who crossed him - including four of Escobar's onetime associates who were tortured and killed inside prison walls - according to one account, hung upside down and bled like steers.At the presidential palace in Bogota the day of Escobar's escape, Busby found President Gaviria pacing in his office with fury. Gaviria had been up all night receiving one outrageous report after another: No assault had been made on the prison during daylight, despite Gaviria's orders. His vice minister of justice and his Bureau of Prisons chief had gone in themselves without authorization to talk with Escobar, and both had been taken hostage. And, finally, the worst of all scenarios had played out: Escobar had vanished.It had taken more than two years, hundreds of lives, and hundreds of millions of dollars - much of it from U.S. covert funds - to hound the murderous drug billionaire into his surrender. Now, in one night, it had all come undone.Waiting with Busby through the president's lamentations were Joe Toft, the flinty Drug Enforcement Administration office chief, and Bill Wagner, the "political secretary" who was in fact Bogota's CIA station chief. "An entire brigade!" Gaviria shouted in amazement. "And the general allows two officials inside the prison to talk to him! For what? To notify him that he was going to be taken? What did he expect would happen? Such a stupid thing! I mean, such a stupid thing!"Gaviria was fed up. For many long months, he had resisted the entreaties of the U.S. government. He had tried to control Escobar on his own. Now everything had changed. The time had come, he had decided, to call in the Americans.The agreement that had landed Escobar in his prison suite at La Cathedral the year before was a masterpiece of duplicity. A man with the blood of thousands on his hands was allowed to plead guilty to having introduced his cousin to a man who had arranged a single drug shipment overseas. Escobar was to serve a prison term and emerge a free man, all sins forgiven.The length of the term was undetermined because prosecutors were allowed to add new charges if they obtained evidence of further crimes - not likely, for witnesses against Escobar typically were either bribed or murdered. In return, the government agreed not to extradite Escobar to the United States.Everyone knew La Cathedral was no prison. Escobar had paid to have it built on the site of one of his favorite resort hideaways near Medellin. His fellow prisoners were his cronies. He exercised a commanding influence over the local government of Envigado, where it was built, and Medellin, the booming northern city that was the base of his drug empire. In its eagerness to strike a deal with Escobar, Bogota had ceded virtually all authority for the "prison" to these locals.La Cathedral was legally a state within a state. The national police, who had lost hundreds of officers to Escobar's assassins, were forbidden to come within 12 miles of the prison. Concerned that American Special Forces or CIA agents might descend from helicopters, Escobar asked the provincial government close the air space over the jail, which it did. Army guards fired on any aircraft that encroached.Escobar's surrender in 1991 had allowed Gaviria to claim a political victory. Not only was the drug boss behind bars, at least technically, but the long and bloody bombing campaign directed by Escobar and his fellow narcos had been halted. Thousands of Colombians had died. Millions lived in terror. The country was exhausted by violence. But now, a year later, Gaviria had decided to move Escobar to an actual prison on a military base in Bogota, a two-hour flight from Escobar's power base in Medellin. The president was embarrassed by newspaper exposes of Escobar's lavish life behind bars. And he was under pressure from the Americans, who had covertly pumped millions of dollars into the Colombian police pursuit of Escobar that had helped compel his "surrender." At the presidential palace in Bogota, in front of the American ambassador and his top staff, Gaviria vented his frustration about Escobar's escape and the army's failure to stop him."Such a stupid thing!" he said.The president was exasperated. He had been living with the threat of Pablo Escobar for years. During his entire campaign for president in 1989, he had expected to be killed by the drug boss. Escobar had tried several times to kill him. Gaviria had taken the place of front-running presidential candidate Luis Galan - Gaviria's good friend - after he was assassinated by Escobar's hit men.Once he was elected, Gaviria's fondest hope was for the Escobar problem to just go away, at least for a while. Colombia was rewriting its constitution, an enormously important and historic task that could establish a stable and peaceful undergirding for the nation for the first time since civil war, La Violencia, had erupted more than 50 years before.The last thing Gaviria needed was for Escobar to be running loose again, setting off his truck and car bombs and unleashing his sicarios, or hired assassins. Ever the pragmatist, the president put aside whatever anger he felt toward the murderous drug boss and struck the deal that had sent Escobar to prison. That Escobar had been able to simply vanish from it now confirmed all of the worst international assumptions about the country. It made Colombia look like a narcocracy.The scene at La Cathedral remained chaotic. One soldier had been killed in the raid. Two Bureau of Prisons guards had been wounded. Five of Escobar's henchmen had been captured, but nine had walked out with him.Gaviria feared the Americans would assume that Escobar had gotten his way again because all Colombians were corrupt. It was hard for outsiders to understand, he believed; they did not feel the full aura of menace around this man. The Americans came and went. They served their two- or three-year stints in Bogota, living behind high, well-patrolled walls, and then returned home.For Colombians, the menace of Pablo Escobar and the other narco killers was constant. Between January and May of 1991 alone, Pablo's sicarios killed four hundred police in Medellin. He killed journalists, judges, politicians. Power was no protection; it just made you a more likely target.Now Gaviria was sure of one thing: This escape was Escobar's last. There would be no more investigations, negotiations, trials or imprisonments. He did not expect Escobar to be taken alive again.The president paced the room furiously as he spoke.Busby was used to the president's temper. He admired Gaviria's courage, campaigning for president in defiance of Escobar's threats, but he did not find Gaviria a charismatic man. There was little about Gaviria that seemed presidential, Busby believed, even though he was almost classically handsome, with his dark hair and strong chin.Both Busby and Wagner, the CIA man, saw Gaviria and the others in his administration as pleasant, well-educated, idealistic and hopelessly naive in their polite upper-middle-class ways. They hadn't stood a chance bargaining with a tough, streetwise gangster like Escobar. Even so, Busby believed that Gaviria, if frustrated and angry enough, was capable of turning cold and calculating. If they were going to get Escobar, they would need a president like that.Busby knew this opportunity wouldn't last, and he was determined to make the most of it. It was the kind of task he was cut out for.He was originally a military man, joining the Navy after graduating from college. Busby had served with a Navy Special Forces unit that predated the Seals, but he was often described as a "former Seal," a mistake he was always quick to correct but which nevertheless added to his mystique.Busby did have close connections with American Special Forces, but they stemmed less from his military service than his years as ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism in the State Department, a job that involved coordinating American diplomatic and covert military action throughout the world.He was a military man who had adopted diplomacy as a second career. That made him a new kind of diplomat.As the Cold War world collapsed, America's enemies became drugs and thugs. Diplomats in previously unimportant parts of the world found themselves at the cutting edge of U.S. foreign relations. In certain hot-spot nations, ambassadors now functioned as field commanders, orchestrating law enforcement, military and diplomatic efforts, both covertly and in cooperation with host governments.In that respect, Busby seemed made for the job in Colombia. To Colombians, he looked like Uncle Sam himself, minus the white goatee. He was tall, lean and tan, with graying sandy hair and the powerful arms and hands of a man who was a skilled carpenter and who loved to sail the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.There was something about Busby that responded to the moral simplicity of confrontation. He was an American patriot, a true believer, and few circumstances in his career were more clear-cut than the challenge posed by Pablo Escobar, a man he considered a monster.Now, as he listened to Gaviria, he knew the time for action had arrived.There had always been restrictions on what American military forces were allowed to do in Colombia. But now, insulted and embarrassed, Gaviria said that as far as he was concerned, the door was wide open. Despite Colombian constitutional barriers and widespread public opposition to foreign troops on their soil, especially American troops, Gaviria said he would welcome any and all help they could give to find Escobar."This is critical, please," he told the ambassador. "Help us get this guy as soon as possible."Tomorrow: A top-secret electronic tracking unit rejoins the hunt. Part IIIFrom Small-Time Gangster To International Outlaw:By Mark Bowden, Inquirer Staff WriterPablo Escobar terrorized Colombia with a string of bombings and assassinations beginning in 1984.Pablo Escobar was arguably the richest and most violent criminal in history. Forbes Magazine in 1989 listed him as the seventh richest man in the world.His campaign of murder, kidnapping, bombing and bribery in the late 1980s and early 1990s forced a constitutional crisis in Colombia. He cowed the government into banning extradition of Colombian citizens - a step designed to counter American efforts to bring cocaine kingpins to the United States for trial.At the height of his power in the early 1990s, Escobar and his Medellin drug cartel controlled most of the multibillion-dollar export of Colombian cocaine to the United States.Escobar was blamed for assassinating three of the five candidates for Colombian president in 1989, and for instigating a takeover of the Palace of Justice in Bogota in 1986. More than 90 people died in the subsequent siege, including 11 Colombian Supreme Court justices.Escobar's violence spread to the United States. His hit men were suspected of murdering Barry Seal, an American drug trafficker who had become a government witness in 1986. When forces allied to Escobar blew up an Avianca Airliner in Colombia in 1989, American concerns about the drug boss grew. The terror attack killed 130 people, including two Americans.When men working for Escobar were caught trying to purchase Stinger antiaircraft missiles in Miami in 1989, it pushed the fugitive drug boss to the top of the U.S. list of terrorist threats. The man ultimately convicted of the Avianca bombing, Dandeny Munoz-Mosquera, was arrested at a pay phone in Queens, N.Y., ostensibly planning to bomb Drug Enforcement Administration offices in the United States.There were intelligence reports that Escobar's Medellin cartel was planning to kill President Bush with a bomb on his visit to a Latin American summit in Cartegena in 1989. With his penchant for violence and seemingly inexhaustible resources, Escobar had emerged by 1989 as a serious threat not just to Colombia, but to America and the world. The drug boss waged a vicious war against police in Medellin, offering bounties for their deaths. Police officers were gunned down on their way home from work, in parks with their children and on routine police duties.Joe Toft, the DEA station chief in Bogota, said that he became so depressed attending the funerals of Colombian police that he had to stop going. Special police chapels were built in Bogota to handle the volume of dead.Mark Bowden's e-mail address is mbowden phillynews.comSource: Inquirer (PA)Author: Mark Bowden, Inquirer Staff WriterPublished: Saturday November 11, 2000Copyright: 2000 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.Address: 400 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19101Contact: Inquirer.Letters phillynews.comWebsite: Pablo Articles:Series Details Pablo Escobar Case Implicated in Deal With Terrorists

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Comment #1 posted by FoM on November 11, 2000 at 16:08:18 PT

CNN's Perspectives - Sunday, Nov. 12, 10 p.m. 

CNN and the Philadelphia Inquirer Chronicle the Horrific Manhunt for Colombian Drug Lord Pablo Escobar Sunday, Nov. 12, 10 p.m. (ET/PT) "Pablo Escobar, in my opinion, is the largest and biggest criminal the world has ever seen or will ever see."  - Ken Magee, agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency How far would the United States go to help bring down Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar? Killing Pablo, the CNN documentary based upon an upcoming Philadelphia Inquirer series, explores that issue. The worldwide premiere of Killing Pablo, reported by CNN's Mike Boettcher, will air Sunday, Nov. 12, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on CNN/U.S. as well as on CNN International and CNN en Español. Killing Pablo features unprecedented access to the soldiers, field agents and U.S. and Colombian military operatives involved in the 15-month chase for one of the most wanted criminals of the 20th century. It will reveal for the first time the extent of the American involvement in the chase and how some of its best soldiers, top secret technology and millions of dollars were brought to bear upon Pablo Escobar, who once made Forbes magazine's top 10 list of the richest people in the world. The Killing Pablo documentary, produced by Chris Mills and Wendy Daughenbaugh of Knight Ridder Video, is part of a unique multimedia relationship between CNN and Knight Ridder, publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The film is based on a series of newspaper reports by award-winning journalist Mark Bowden, author of the best-selling book Black Hawk Down, which also began as a newspaper series in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Bowden's series will also be published in The Philadelphia Inquirer beginning Nov. 12. Perspectives is an hour-long documentary strand drawing on the award-winning expertise of CNN Productions and documentaries made by broadcasters and independent producers from around the world. The Perspectives strand covers subjects as diverse as health and medical issues, how people live and cope in a war zone, religious fanaticism and the legacy of the Holocaust. © 2000 Cable News Network. 
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