42 Sobering Facts About Drug Cartels

In movies and on TV, drug smugglers are depicted as sophisticated criminal masterminds, romantic anti-heroes, and, of course, violent gangsters. Sometimes they are all three.

But who they are, and how they make billions of dollars trafficking drugs from country to country, can prove even more complicated. Here are 42 facts about Latin American drug cartels.

42. Born in a Prison Cell

Carlos Lehder and George Jung met while they were cellmates at Danbury prison in Connecticut. Lehder had a connection with a Colombian drug dealer; Jung had experience as a pilot and smuggler. Together, they devised a plan to purchase drugs in Colombia and smuggle them into the United States, changing the way people buy drugs forever. Jung was later immortalized in the Johnny Depp film Blow.

Drug Cartels Facts

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41. Say Hello to My Little Friend

Lehder's Colombian friend led him to none other than Pablo Escobar, a major drug trafficker from the city of Medellin.

Lehder and Jung gave Escobar an opportunity to expand his operation, and together the three began channeling drugs from Colombia to the United States via a tiny island in the Caribbean called Norman’s Cay.

This was the birth of the Medellin cartel.

Drug Cartels Facts


40. King Pin

Escobar became the undisputed king of Colombian drug lords. Throughout the 1980s, Escobar supplied 80% of the world’s cocaine, earning $420 million every week.

Drug Cartels Facts


39. Our Biggest Client

With the help of Jung and Lehder, Escobar was dropping 15 tons of drugs on US soil every single day.

Drug Cartels Facts