Pablo Escobar Jailed

A mugshot of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar taken in 1977
A mugshot of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar taken in 1977

Historical Context

Pablo Escobar was the most powerful drug lord in history. At the height of his power in the 1980s, he was one of the most wealthy men alive, and his Medellin Cartel at one point controlled the importation of 80% of all cocaine to the United States. This made him extraordinarily rich: he was worth around $30 billion by the early 1990s (around $58 billion in 2018 money) and earned around $70 million a day.

This also made him extraordinarily dangerous. Escobar was responsible for an enormous number of deaths, massacres and narcoterrorist attacks as he maintained his grip on the cartel. In one instance, Escobar ordered the bombing of an aircraft which was supposed to be carrying César Gaviria, a presidential candidate opposed to the cartels. The plane was not carrying Gaviria and all 107 aboard died.

Eventually he surrendered to the Colombian authorities in 1991. But he did so on his own terms: he was allowed to design and build his own prison, La Catedral, which included a football pitch, giant doll house, bar, jacuzzi and waterfall. Escobar lived unrestricted in the luxurious mansion, and when reports emerged that he was still running the cartel business (including having people murdered on the grounds of the jail), the Colombian government attempted to move him to a normal prison facility. He discovered the plan in advance and escaped.

He spent the rest of his life on the run until he was shot and killed by police on 2 December 1993 in his hometown.

Photo Info


Photographer: Medellin Control Agency
Location taken: La Catedral Prison, Medellin, Colombia

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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