After notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar was killed, the son who many thought would succeed him fled Colombia, assumed a new identity and lived a low-profile life as an architect in Argentina.
The former Juan Pablo Escobar, who was 16 when his father was shot to death in 1993, is now trading anonymity for what he calls conscience, asking forgiveness for his father's reign of terror in the documentary "Sins of My Father," which opens at film festivals in Argentina on Thursday and Amsterdam on Nov. 19.
In a rare telephone interview last week with The Associated Press, he claimed his father's fortune is gone and that he wasn't part of his criminal enterprise.
He said he went public with his apology to the sons of two politicians his father ordered assassinated because of the pain his father wrought as a billionaire drug trafficker.
Escobar led the world's leading cocaine cartel in the 1980s. He fought extradition to the United States with a violent campaign at home, ordering bombings _ including one that destroyed an airliner four minutes after takeoff, killing all 107 people aboard _ and the kidnapping and killing of politicians, judges and journalists who got in his way.
But the son insists he was not involved and his family has been unjustly persecuted, though many wonder what happened to Escobar's vast wealth _ estimated at $3.5 billion by Fortune magazine at one point.
"For every 10 doors we knock on, 11 get slammed in our faces," said Sebastian Marroquin, 32, whose first and last names were changed for his protection before authorities spirited the family out of Colombia.
Marroquin and his mother were charged but then cleared of money laundering in Argentina after illegally entering the country in 1994. And a former top U.S. anti-drug official for Colombia said authorities had evidence in the early 1990s that Marroquin was preparing to succeed his father.
Marroquin's claim that he had nothing to do with his father's crimes is "full of crap because there was a lot of evidence up there that the old guy was trying to groom him," said Joe Toft, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief in Colombia during Escobar's heyday.
There was never a criminal investigation against Marroquin in Colombia, in part because he was a minor at the time, Francisco Jose Sintura, a former top Colombian prosecutor from the Escobar era, told the AP.
Marroquin, chubby like his father and bearing some resemblance, doesn't plan to return to Colombia. Instead, he wants to open a door to reconciliation.
"He's risking the most important thing that he's had in the last few years, which is nothing more and nothing less than his anonymity," said Nicolas Entel, the documentary's Argentine director.
Entel said he and his brother spent about $750,000 making the movie and that Marroquin did not invest any money and has no financial stake in it.
The son of a farmer and a schoolteacher, Pablo Escobar started his criminal life as a teenager stealing tombstones and grew to lead the world's biggest cocaine-smuggling operation.
He used his drug earnings to buy popularity and win election to Congress. When politicians, judges and police resisted him, he had them killed.
In 1989, he ordered the bombing of the domestic airliner because he thought future President Cesar Gaviria was among the passengers.
At one point he surrendered to authorities, yet maintained his grip on the country from a posh prison he designed. He later escaped from the jail and turned fugitive again.
Escobar was killed by Colombian police on Dec. 2, 1993 when Marroquin was 16. Father and son had carelessly lingered on the phone, allowing authorities to home in on the drug lord. They shot him dead on the roof of a safe house as he tried to flee, pistol in hand.
"When you don't ask forgiveness and cling to hate, you are perpetuating the pain a violent act provokes," Marroquin told the AP from Argentina.
Even as he apologized for Escobar's crimes orchestrated from Colombia's former drug capital of Medellin, Marroquin also defended him as "not only a terror machine."
"He was also a father, a great father."
A child of narcodollar-bought excess, Marroquin said he's now a self-supporting architect and his mother is an interior designer and real estate agent. They appear to live modest, quiet lives in Buenos Aires with no bodyguards and no luxury cars.
Escobar's estimated $3.5 billion fortune has apparently vanished and Marroquin swears he has no answers.
"I'd like to know, too, to tell the truth," he said.
In Colombia alone, more than 240 Escobar properties were seized, including a 7,000-acre (2,830-hectare) ranch with its own airport, plus a zoo with zebras and hippos.
Toft said other properties were confiscated in Miami and elsewhere, and he suspects Escobar had undiscovered European and Latin American holdings.
He estimates Escobar lost more than 80 percent of his wealth but likely provided plenty for his family, including Marroquin.
"I don't think the kid walked away with a few hundred million dollars. But he walked away with quite a bit," Toft said.
Marroquin denied that and said he knew his father was a drug trafficker but was never personally involved.
"Business was never discussed in front of the family," he said. "It's not like my father would sit down with us at breakfast and say, 'Pass me the cereal, and today we're going to explode three bombs in Bogota and I'm going to send this-and-such many kilos to such-and-such a place.'"
After Escobar was killed, Marroquin, his mother and sister spent nearly a year in Colombia under government protection as officials searched for a country that would accept them. The drug lord's enemies and victims' relatives were pledging revenge.
Finally, Mozambique agreed. Marroquin alleged U.S pressure limited the options. They later entered Argentina on three-month tourism visas, lying to authorities that they were from a coffee-growing family whose patriarch died in a car accident, Marroquin said.
Each carried the $10,000 maximum allowed by law, he said. Five years later, however, Marroquin and his mother were arrested. He spent 45 days in jail and his mother 20 months on money-laundering and false-document charges. He did not say how much he was accused of laundering, but said that he and his mother were cleared by the Argentine Supreme Court in 2006. They are now legal residents of Argentina.
Marroquin told Colombian journalist Maria Jimena Duzan in 2006 that Colombian gangsters forced him to pay unspecified sums to leave the family in peace. He didn't say where the money came from.
His apology happened last year, when Marroquin traveled to Bogota _ his first time back since 1994 _ for a secret meeting for the film arranged with the three sons of Luis Carlos Galan, the presidential candidate the drug lord had killed in 1989.
Months earlier, Marroquin apologized to the son of former Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, assassinated on Escobar's orders in 1984 for publicly denouncing the drug lord in Congress.
The son, a senator also named Rodrigo, said he met with Marroquin in Buenos Aires as "an act of humanity" and believes the apology was sincere.
"I think it was more important for him," he told the AP.
During the Colombia trip, Marroquin sneaked into Medellin and cried while visiting his father's grave for the first time.
He said he'll always love his father, and paraphrased Mahatma Gandhi to explain: "We can hate the sin, but we shouldn't hate the sinner."