AT the height of his notoriety Pablo Escobar was making an estimated £600 a second while shifting 15 tons of cocaine into the USA every single day.
From a middle-class upbringing he became the seventh richest man in the world, and was probably much higher up the rankings when it came to most wanted.
To get there he is said to have killed more than 10,000 people, including politicians, journalists and almost anyone in law enforcement who didn’t want to live in his pocket.
Besides ordering assassinations, one of his other hobbies was trying to shift all his cash.
One way he did this was, apart from simply burying it in fields, to invest in a variety of incredible properties and lavish estates.
And it turns out he was almost as good at splashing the cash on ludicrous pads as he was at making it. Check these out:
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Named after his daughter, La Manuela was Pablo’s 20-acre luxurious waterside retreat in the resort town of Guatapé, Colombia.
Pablo poured a lot of money into La Manuela, after all he wasn’t going to name anything shabby after his daughter.
He visited whenever the daily grind of being the world’s biggest drug dealer all got a bit too much.
The stately mansion featured helipads, a seaplane dock, swimming pool, tennis courts and a football pitch.
Trees were imported from all over the world and inside the home, which was one of Escobar’s favourite properties, was a disco.
In 1993 the estate was targeted in a bombing orchestrated by Los Pepes, a vigilante group whose acronym stood for ‘Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar’ (People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar). Los Pepes was reportedly supported by Escobar’s rival, the Cali Cartel, as well as other individuals who opposed Escobar.
During the attack, approximately 200kg of TNT was placed inside a bathroom at La Manuela. The detonation completely destroyed the house. In the aftermath of the explosion, law enforcement swiftly intervened and seized the drugs and money that were uncovered amidst the wreckage.
Shortly afterwards La Manuela was abandoned and it slowly became reclaimed by nature. It is currently dilapidated and covered in plants and weeds, but it is still occasionally used as paintball location.
Approximately 100 miles east of Medellín was Escobar’s private zoo and country estate.
The ranch encompassed various features, including a splendid Spanish colonial house, an extensive sculpture park and a fully-fledged zoo that housed animals from across the world.
Among the remarkable species housed in the zoo were antelopes, elephants, exotic birds, giraffes, hippos, ostriches, and ponies.
In addition to its natural attractions, the estate boasted an impressive assortment of vintage and luxury cars, as well as motorcycles. The residence even included a private airport for convenient access.
Taking extravagance to another level, the estate also featured both a Formula 1 racing track and a brothel.
After Pablo Escobar’s death in 1993 and the dismantling of the Medellín Cartel his family entered a legal struggle with the Colombian government over the property.
The government won, but Hacienda Nápoles still fell into disrepair and was abandoned for many years. The Colombian government eventually took control of the property and transformed it into a theme park called ‘Temático Hacienda Nápoles Park.’
Today, the park features attractions such as a safari and water park, the zoo hosts bison, a rare goat, ostrich, and zebras.
The hippos illegally imported by the narco-trafficker escaped soon after his death in 1993 and have been running amok for years since.
Today approximately 130 still exist living feral, the largest population outside Africa, as the animals have no natural predators in Colombia to control their population.
La Casa Grande
Not all of Pablo’s purchases were in Colombia. La Casa Grande was his Caribbean retreat on the tiny island of Isla Grande.
The island has a population of around 800 people and it is only accessible by a boat from nearby Cartagena.
Despite the island being so small it was actually one of the cocaine king’s biggest estates and it was built as his secret party house.
La Casa Grande had over 300 rooms allegedly with solid gold shower heads in every single bathroom.
Making your way to the mansion would have involved hours trekking through dense jungle, unless of course you had a chopper to fly you in.
Like other properties the mansion was abandoned after his death and nature has since reclaimed the sprawling building.
The Monaco Building was Pablo Escobar’s ‘criminal fortress’ – an eight-storey concrete mansion in the city of Medellin.
Pablo lived in one of the twelve apartments with his wife and son, while the remaining areas of the building were occupied by two swimming pools, a tennis court, a panic room, a vault and 34 parking spaces exclusively designated for his extensive collection of vintage cars and motorcycles.
In January 1988, the building was partially destroyed by a car bomb, marking the onset of a fatal conflict between the Medellín and Cali drug cartels.
Two years later the government seized the property and for some time it lay abandoned, it was later used as a tourist attraction for many years, but in 2019 the building was razed to the ground to both cheers and tears from local residents.
Hotel Escobar / La Catedral
La Catedral, often referred to as Hotel Escobar or Club Medellín because of its opulence, was Escobar’s personal prison, built to his specifications under an agreement with the Colombian government.
Escobar agreed to a plea deal with authorities and accepted a maximum sentence of five years, during which the Colombian government agreed to not extradite him to the United States.
The prison featured a giant doll house, a football pitch, a bar, casino, jacuzzi and it even had its own waterfall.
It was believed that the prison was designed to keep people out rather than in, protecting Pablo from assassination attempts.
All was going well and Pablo was over a year into his sentence with authorities turning a blind eye to his continued drug running while inside, but Escobar tortured and killed four of the guards prompting officials to want to place him in a normal prison which forced Pablo out on the run.
The Colombian government weren’t messing around this time and they employed a 600 strong team to find Escobar and the rest as most know is history.
Escobar was shot and killed on a rooftop while escaping on 02 December 1993.
La Catedral stood abandoned until 2007 when a group of Benedictine monks started to make the site their own. Drawn to its serene and secluded environment, away from the bustling city, the monks saw it as an ideal place for meditation and spiritual reflection.
The monks embarked on a mission to breathe new life into the premises. They constructed a chapel, a library, a cafeteria, and a guesthouse alongside a memorial dedicated to the victims of the cartel who had been associated with the prison.
So perhaps at last there was some peace, remembrance and reflection for all that went before Pablo Escobar, probably the most infamous, and murderous, drug dealer ever to have lived.