Carlos Lehder was the flamboyant half-German, half-Colombian drug dealer, a part of the infamous Medellin Cartel in Colombia.

Born Carlos Enrique Lehder Rivas in 1950, Ledher envisioned the free flowing export of millions of dollars worth of cocaine from Colombia to the USA. With the help of his associates Pablo Escobar, The Ochoa brothers (veterans of the drug dealing business, credited with the formation of the cartel) they formed one of the most lucrative and efficient illegal drug businesses of all time.

Lehder's career in narcotics came about through his training as a pilot, a very useful skill to have in Colombia at the time. Lehder was mainly responsible for the airbound transportation of cocaine shipments from Colombia to the Bahamas. Bearing in mind that one small twin-engined aircraft making it's delivery meant $20,000,000 for the cartel, a lot of responsibility rested on his shoulders. It is known at one stage that Ledher was actually purchasing Boeing 727 jet planes, ripping out the seats, filling them with tons of coke, and flying them via the Bahamas to the US to distribution centres in Miami, New York and California. The market for Cocaine at the time was simply huge. Party-goers across the country could not get enough of this magical white powder, and the cartel were more than willing to supply it. Lehder's shipments always arrived with "the personal touch". He idolized Adolf Hitler, thusly all his packages would arrive in the USA with a swastika printed on the packaging.

Although Lehder's speciality was in flight transportation, the cartel came up with increasingly inventive ways of shipping the merchandise out, one of the most daring was the use of remote controlled submarines and speed boats, pioneered apparently by the ruthless Pablo Escobar.

Operation Caribe shut down Lehder's notorious Norman's Cay operation in the Bahamas in 1982, after which Lehder, according to some, began to lose his mind. He attempted to run for political office, openly admitting he was a drug traffiker. He did not succeed.

At the time, the cartel was making more money than General Motors, Exxon, IBM or any other American corporation, and it's leaders, especially Escobar, were among the richest and most powerful people in the world.

Lehder was eventually arrested after the collapse of the cartel and given over 120 years for his crimes. He appeared as star witness in the trial of Manual Noriega.

Info from various sources including the book "Killing Pablo" by Mark Bowden

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