In the late 1980s, Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel was the most powerful drug-trafficking organization in the world.
As such, Escobar and his associates had attracted the attention of Colombian authorities.
Violence in Colombia had increased throughout the decade, and by 1988, Escobar and the Colombian government had entered into “indirect” negotiations, during which the cartel leaders proposed a deal to preserve their wealth and end the government’s efforts to hunt them down.
In their effort to secure the deal and protect their business, Escobar and his associates tried to contact some of the highest-ranking members of the US political class, including a former secretary of state as well as a Florida power-player and presidential scion: Jeb Bush. Bush would later become governor of Florida and ran for president in 2016 before dropping out.
Escobar “and the traffickers of Medellín … offered to abandon drugs trafficking in return for — no more, no less — an end to extradition, a judicial pardon and a tax amnesty,” wrote Simon Strong in his 1995 book, “Whitewash: Pablo Escobar and the Cocaine Wars.”
At the suggestion of Germán Montoya, the head of then-Colombian President Virigilio Barco’s staff, the drug lords looked for a way to get US officials onboard with the deal, particularly the part about ending extradition. Montoya and others considered US approval essential to any agreement.
“In 1988, the drug lords reportedly attempted to hire the services of the New York firm Kissinger and Associates to mount a public relations campaign on behalf of the proposed trafficker-government accord,” Patrick Clawson and Rensselaer Lee wrote in their 1996 book, “The Andean Cocaine Industry.”
“No agreement was reached with the firm, however,” Clawson and Lee added.
The drug barons were not deterred. They waited until then-US President Ronald Reagan, a dedicated anti-drug warrior, was out of office.
The following year, through intermediary Joaquin Vallejo, a former Colombian senator and Escobar’s godfather, they turned their efforts to someone even closer to the White House than the firm of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Read the Remainder at Business Insider