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Pablo Escobar’s son says he thought nothing of seeing bodies in piled in streets
August 12, 2020
The first-born son of Pablo Escobar has revealed he thought nothing of seeing dead bodies piled in the streets as he grew up with private security fending off kidnappers.
Roberto Sendoya Escobar was just a baby in a cot beside his teenage mother when she was killed in a shoot-out during a secret mission led by a British MI6 agent to recover a cash hoard from a safe house used by a young Escobar.
Escobar would go on to become one the must notorious criminals in history meanwhile his first born lived a very different life.
Roberto was rescued and adopted by the MI6 agent who led the mission, Patrick Witcomb.
Today, Phillip Witcomb, as Escobar's first-born is known, is an acclaimed fine artist living with his wife on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.
The 55-year-old recalled how as a child he became used to violence and to seeing bodies lining the streets.
It wasn't long before Escobar senior got wind of his young son's whereabouts and the boy narrowly escaped being kidnapped by the drug lord's dangerous henchmen on several occasions.
"Heavy security was the norm for me," Witcomb recalls.
"You don't understand those traumatic moments, they are just stuff you're scared of," he says now. "At the time it was just drama. There was a lot of drama in Bogota.
"When there's a police shooting in London it's all over the news, but in Colombia it didn't even make the back pages. I didn't know it was a kidnap attempt at the time. My bodyguard shot this assailant as he came out of the shop, bang, dead! I thought nothing of seeing a dead body in the street.
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"I remember once seeing this kid outside the supermarket with no legs, on a board that had wheels on it. My bodyguard told me that in poor families they would cut off the legs of the eldest kid so he could beg outside the shops to make money for the family. That's how violent it was.
"All I could hear was this screeching sound. They were covering the young man with newspapers… I saw a pool of blood seeping out under the newspapers covering the man's head".
After several botched kidnapping attempts the family ended up moving to a safer location.
And Escobar's son lived a very different lifestyle to that of his criminal father.
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With his adoptive family, the young Phillip was transported into a world of privilege, private schools, luxurious houses, private planes and exotic holidays, constantly shadowed by armed bodyguards and escorted by armoured vehicles.
He said: "I grew up very spoilt. I didn't know what money was, I just clicked my fingers and waiters came up and gave me food. There was no-one telling me what to do. My father was very influential and wielded a lot of power. The president of Colombia gave me presents," he recalls in a new tell-all book Son Of Escobar.
"It's very difficult for people outside my funny little world as a child to see that as normal, because obviously it isn't.
"I'd been placed with this English family and from a very young age was put into this situation which became normal to me. I couldn't understand why some of my school friends in Colombia didn't have all this stuff. They thought it was cool for me to have men with me who had guns."
His adoptive father, Patrick – who worked for a firm that printed banknotes and ran an armoured car business in Colombia – continued to live in various locations in the country and elsewhere.
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He worked with the British and US governments, going undercover and even helping Escobar squirrel money away from his own family and cartel, to infiltrate the drugs operation and gain his trust.
To gain Escobar's trust, Patrick took his adopted son to New Year's Eve parties at a swanky hotel in Escobar's home turf of Medellin, so his birth father could meet him.
He said: "It was quite surreal because when my dad said I needed to speak to this guy, it's a bit like when your parents introduce you to an uncle you don't know."
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"I was meeting a strange person in a strange environment. As I got a little older, he said some strange things to me which were a bit personal, but then you just get on with your life. I had met lots of dignitaries and high ranking members of society in the UK."
Witcomb would not be told his father's identity until he was 24-years-old.
In 1993, both his adoptive father and his birth father died (Patrick had Motor Neurone Disease while Escobar was shot dead by police in Medellin).
When Patrick was on his deathbed, he gave Witcomb a piece of paper with lines of codes which, he says, reveal the secret hiding place of Escobar's "missing millions", the money he was tucking away.
The code appears in the book.
"At the end of the day, I know it's not all in cash and he had time to convert it into other things," is the only clue Witcomb offers.
Son Of Escobar by Roberto Sendoya Escobar is published by Ad Lib, priced £14.99.