By the time you read this Season two of Netflix’s absolutely, dare I say it, addictive series Narcos will be made available for streaming (3:01pm SGT). Season 1’s chronicling of the rise of the Medellín Cartel was nothing short of impressive, with the visibly high production value and commendable acting performances, but most of us are still unaware about just how huge the Cartel’s operation was. Here are some of Medellín Cartel’s numbers placed in a Singaporean context to give you a clearer picture, and knock your socks clean off.
Escobar’s estimated net worth. That’s more than the combined net worth of the four wealthiest people living in Singapore. At its height, the Medellín Cartel earned US$4 billion per year, most of it in cash.
The amount of cocaine the Medellín Cartel smuggled per day at the peak of the drug trade. Here’s 15 tonnes in popular restricted items at customs: 10,000 durians, and 7,894,737 sticks of chewing gum.
The amount Escobar burned as fuel to keep his daughter, Manuela, warm when she fell ill while the Escobar family was in hiding. According to Singapore Power, the average June 2016 utility bill with gas in a HDB 4-Room flat was SG$146 (roughly US$109). Escobar burnt enough money to pay utilities for 18,348 households.
The size of Escobar’s estate in the small Colombian town of Puerto Triunfo. This is equivalent to 224,825 4-Room HDB flats, assuming the flats are built side by side on a single floor. Escobar built the Puerto Triunfo estate as a holiday getaway and included a pool, a bullring and a zoo housing hippos, giraffes and elephants.
Escobar eventually had a bounty of more than US$5 million on his head, which is 6.7 times more than the bounty offered for the notorious fugitive Mas Selamat Kastari.
Escobar spent around US$2,500 a month on rubber bands used to hold his money. 1,800 rubber bands cost an average of SG$6.50 (USD 4.85), meaning he used 927,835 rubber bands a month just to hold the cash.
Often storing his money in dirty, rundown warehouses, ten per cent of Escobar’s yearly earnings were written off as spoilage due vermin and damp. Pablo lost more money every year than what 39 of the 50 richest Singaporeans are worth. Perhaps he should’ve invested a little more into storage facilities and pest control. Although, when you’re as rich as he was, who has time for such minor issues?
In the early 80s, the street value of a kilo of cocaine in Miami was $50,000. That’s equivalent to a second-hand Mercedes-Benz S300L (sans COE) here.
At its peak, the Medellín cartel employed over 750,000 people – that’s almost 15% of Singapore’s population. Not too shabby for a sociopath.