Pablo Escobar: His prison was a luxury hotel, he signed his own death by escaping from it

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The drug lord had a soccer field, a bar, a hot tub and an artificial waterfall for relaxation. He also had binoculars installed there to look down on the city to his daughter’s house while on the phone with her. The only things missing from his free life there were his cars and his own private zoo, otherwise he lived as before – and continued to run his drug business from there. He had the prison complex built himself.

He built a custom prison himself

Pablo Escobar, the man whose drug trade brought him such a fortune that in 1989 it made him the eighth richest person on the planet according to Forbes magazine, liked to be in control. He knew that of all the institutions in the world he was hated the most by the government authorities of the United States, because that country was the main outlet for the drugs he produced. And apparently he also suspected that no tree grows to the sky. Enemy cartels could have betrayed him, the Colombian government could have extradited him.

To prevent this, he surrendered himself to the government in 1991, with the condition that they would not extradite him to the United States, but would keep him in a prison that he would build with his own funds.

Pablo Escobar’s Luxury Prison:

Source: Youtube

“What was surprising was that the Colombian government agreed. And Pablo built the cathedral as his fortress. And we’re not just talking about the building itself; we’re talking about all the possible angles he could have used to ensure he had the upper hand over his enemies in every way. The Colombian government agreed to all of this,” Entity magazine reported five years ago.

Escobar found and negotiated a huge plot of land and, using his own resources, personally hired the people to build the prison. At the same time, the chosen place had two advantages: thick fogs formed there, which made it almost invisible to attacks from the air, and it was located at the top of a steep hill, which was advantageous for the defense and disadvantageous for the attackers. He subtly ensured that he would not be kidnapped from this prison against his will.

Source: Youtube

He determined who would be with him and who wouldn’t

He also decided that the Colombian National Police would stay 20 kilometers from the prison. And he even managed to have a number of rifles and machine guns buried in an easily accessible place in the area during the construction of the complex. “When he agreed to surrender to the government, he was still acting from a position of power and he knew it. That is why he got all these privileges. If he wasn’t able to plan strategically like that, he definitely wouldn’t have made it to the top,” Entity said.

Along with Escobar, a number of other people were housed in the prison: other drug lords from the lower rungs of the hierarchy, serial killers, politicians, professional football players, prostitutes and even beauty queens. “Everyone knew Pablo was the king. He paid for a sauna, a bar, a disco that doubles as a wedding hall, big-screen TVs, a gym and a pool table. Award-winning chefs cooked for everyone, and everyone partook in luxurious banquets. All this for Pablo’s money,” reports Entity.

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All of the above made it to the Cathedral thanks to Escobar, in the words of Puzz’s Godfather, doing them a favor. However, not everyone liked the rules set in this way.

When Escobar had the businessmen Kiko Moncada and Fernando Galeano, who came to see him in prison, murdered because of a suspected conflict of interest, public opinion in Colombia began to turn against him. This action set in motion a chain of events that led to the Colombian government’s decision to strip its prominent prisoner of luxury and send him to a normal prison.

No, they won’t move me

From behind the prison walls, Escobar not only murdered his opponents, but also continued to run the drug business. He didn’t even have to deceive the prison guards, because they went to his hand and even willingly carried out his orders.

However, the killing of Galeano and Moncada brought the situation to the attention of the world. And Escobar’s position, as well as his persistent influence on the drug trade, fell out of favor with the US government. This therefore increased the pressure on the leadership of the Colombian state. And the president at the time, César Gaviria, decided to move Pablo to a real prison.

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But it wouldn’t be Escobar if he didn’t find out about this plan in advance. And he decided not to let himself be moved.

When an army escort came for him, prison guards pointed guns at her, saying they were trespassing under Escobar’s deal with the Colombian government.

But the soldiers did not leave. Escobar tried to negotiate and most likely tried to bribe the two men who had the highest decision-making power in the place, Deputy Minister of Justice Eduardo Mendoza and prison director Colonel Hernando Navas Rubio, to keep him in the Cathedral. But both refused, which escalated the situation.

Pablo Escobar wanted poster from 1992Pablo Escobar wanted poster from 1992Source: Wikimedia Commons, Juandax, CC BY-SA 4.0

An escape route has already been created

When the two men set out to negotiate with Escobara, they underestimated the fact that he was actually the one holding the prison in his hands. Now, with the help of his men, he quickly tied them up and got a hostage.

Then he let the lights go out in the prison and, accompanied by his guards and close fellow prisoners, went out with the two bound men through an escape route that he had already prepared during the construction of the prison. The perimeter wall was deliberately weakened in one place and was filled only with mortar, so it could easily be breached. Which Escobar knew, but the soldiers who were supposed to transport him didn’t.

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The Colombian army did not fire on him along the way because it was dark and there was a risk of hitting the hostages. At the wall, Escobar ordered the guards to take Mendoza and Navas to safety and fled with his brother Roberto and eight other men.

Soon after, the army launched an attack on the prison. Soldiers searched every room, guns in hand, but Escobar was gone. Those of his men who hadn’t escaped with him were still enjoying the pool and all the other luxuries the prison had to offer.

How did Pablo Escobar turn out?

Escobar’s escape humiliated both the Colombian and American governments, but neither of them was going to let it go. Although the drug lord was free again, he was actually only now falling on hard times. In addition, the murder of Galeano and Moncada turned a part of the Colombian drug mafia against him – the so-called Los Pepes, and they were ready to cooperate in his capture. The group also took revenge on Escobar’s relatives and supporters, killing over 300 of them in total. The drug lord has turned into a thug.

The war against Escobar ended on December 2, 1993, when, thanks to technology supplied by the United States, Colombian technicians managed to track down Escobar in a Medellin neighborhood. He tried to escape and there was a firefight in which he was driven to the roof. He was hit in the back and leg, but received a fatal blow behind the ear, allegedly by members of the Colombian police.

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According to another version, Pablo Escobar was shot by a sniper from the Delta Force, and according to another version, he committed suicide (he allegedly once confided to his friends that “rather than fall into the hands of justice, he would rather shoot himself right behind the ear”). Photos of laughing members of the chase unit over Escobar’s corpse went around the world.

After Escobar’s death, the Medellín cartel disbanded and very soon the cocaine trade began to be dominated by the Cali cartel, whose leaders were then killed or caught in the mid-1990s.