THERE will be millions of dry eyes around the world today at the news of the death of Pablo Escobar, the cocaine criminal and large scale murderer. Even among criminals, Escobar stood out as one of the most evil. He controlled a cocaine empire that earned him billions of dollars, at the expense of other people's addiction. Police believe he was responsible for hundreds of murders, including those of a Colombian justice minister, three presidential candidates, 107 people aboard an airliner which was blown out of the sky and dozens of journalists and judges. Innocent people died by the score, caught in the crossfire as his assassination squads did their master's work. At times, descriptions of Escobar's life tended to paint a glamorous picture of a vicious man. Forbes magazine once dubbed him the world's first criminal billionaire. In 1989, People magazine named him one of the most intriguing people of the year. But in the end he became a victim of the addiction and the violence he visited on others. Cocaine caught him in its grip. And he died violently on Thursday, gunned down by Colombian troops during a rooftop shoot-out. Such was his ruthlessness and his notoriety that even his own son had second thoughts about his reaction to his father's death. Juan Pablo Escobar, 16, at first vowed to avenge his father. ''Those guys who killed him I'm going to kill (them) on my own,'' he said. Only hours later he backtracked. Nothing would be done, he said. Colombia's President, Cesar Gaviria, claimed that the slaying represents the biggest success so far in his Government's war against the drug barons. The Government had, he said, broken the back of the drug cartel Escobar had run. United States President Bill Clinton has congratulated Mr Gaviria on the end of his struggle to bring Pablo Escobar to justice. But it is now critical that the Government not end the battle with Escobar's death. The shooting is, as Mr Gaviria noted, a crucial step towards the end of drug trafficking, and drug-related terrorism. It is, however, only a step. The fight must continuefor as long as is needed - for the sake of Colombia and its people and for the sake of those in other countries who would suffer from addiction to drugs supplied from Colombia.