Hotel Escobar – The Luxury Prison Pablo Escobar Built for Himself


It’s the early 1990s and the world’s biggest
drug kingpin, who is also one of the world’s richest people, is sitting back in his jacuzzi. He has a glass of champagne to one side of
him and a meal to the other side that was put together by one of his personal chefs. He’s in a good mood since his favorite soccer
team, Atlético Nacional, is winning 3-0. While this is going on tons of his cocaine
are being both snorted and transported all over the world. Looking through a window he sees the usual
evening fog start to encapsulate his mountain fortress. He’s safe and sound, and living a life of
luxury…and yet…he’s officially in prison. Pablo Escobar, aka, “The King of Coke”,
or to his allies, El Patrón, doesn’t need much of an introduction. He became the richest criminal in the world,
with a fortune amounting to as much as $30 billion. One of the reasons many of you will know a
lot about this man’s life story is because in death he’s also made a lot of money for
Netflix. Perhaps no other criminal has featured in
movies and series as much as Pablo has done over the last decade. He started his life of crime in his teen years,
selling fake high school diplomas. He soon moved into moving fake lottery tickets,
stealing cars and other petty crimes. But it was smuggling that would make him a
millionaire as a young man. Let’s first see how cocaine consumption
got going in the U.S., Pablo’s Escobar’s most faithful customer. Cocaine had actually been consumed in the
USA and Europe a long time before Pablo came on to the scene. In 1884, an Austrian neurologist who became
the founder of psychoanalysis, said cocaine was a, “magical substance.” He was of course Sigmund Freud and he struggled
to quit taking the stuff in his later years. The U.S. Food and Drug Act of 1906 ensured
that if cocaine was added to certain products, then that should be on the label. You might remember that Coca-Cola famously
added it to its secret recipe, and from 1899 to 1903 no doubt Coke drinkers also agreed
that the drink was pretty magical. The creator of Coca-Cola, John Pemberton,
actually devised the Coca-leaf infused drink as a way to deal with his own morphine addiction. In 1914, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act came
into effect, and this regulated the sale of cocaine and other narcotics. The stimulant had been around on the streets
for a long time before that, but used mainly on the fringes of society. It was used by some poorer folks who required
the extra push for the hard work they did. The drug was stigmatized, and outlandish,
racist and ridiculous things were said about the minorities and working classes that allegedly
took the stuff. This is a long way from Escobar’s high castle. We just want you to know that a long time
before 21st century news reports told us that 90 percent of U.S. banknotes contained traces
of cocaine, it existed on the fringes of society. By the time the 1950s rolled around in the
USA, cocaine was thought to be a thing of the past, a substance still associated with
poorer folks. According to a research article called “The
‘Pre-Colombian’ Era of Drug Trafficking in the Americas: Cocaine, 1945-1965”, in
the 1950s very few smugglers brought the drug to the USA from various parts of South America. In the 60s things changed, and in 1969 when
The Beatles released “Abbey Road” and many Americans experienced “3 Days of Peace
& Music” at the Woodstock festival, the 20-year old Pablo Escobar was about to embark
on a career smuggling cocaine to the USA. Fast-forward a few years and cocaine had been
redefined as a party drug and associated with wealth and glamorous discos. It was no longer a pick-me-up for a farm laborer. Cocaine had made a comeback and Pablo Escobar
was behind it. In the mid-70s while Americans were doing
lines in restroom stalls, he had already banked around $3 million. His operations got bigger; he devised more
smuggling routes and bought more airplanes, and in the 1980s the U.S. was flooded with
cocaine. Wall Street brokers couldn’t get through
a morning without a “straightener” and it wouldn’t be long until the drug had infiltrated
many, many neighborhoods in the U.S. Now Pablo is a billionaire. He’s thought of as a Robin Hood to the poor
communities he helps in Colombia and there aren’t many officials he doesn’t have
in his pockets. Then a man named Luis Carlos Galán comes
onto the political scene in Colombia and he wants to win the 1990 presidential election. He wants to clean things up and get rid of
corruption and of course he has an extreme dislike of Escobar’s Medellin Cartel. The U.S. wanted Escobar extradited to face
the music there, and Galan supported this. This was bad news for Pablo and it wasn’t
long until Galan was assassinated. One of the Cartel’s hitmen, John Jairo Velásquez
a.k.a. “Popeye”, has since stated that Pablo was behind that. We should also remember that the cartel still
had many paid friends in politics and the military, and Galan being President would
have put a dent in their under-the-table paychecks. The thing was, Escobar and his cartel had
just got out of hand. There had been too much blood on the streets
and taking Galan out was seen as perhaps having too much power. There was also a lot of pressure from the
USA. A new government came in, and under the Colombian
Constitution of 1991 the extradition of Colombians to the U.S. was not allowed. This part of the constitution was no doubt
ghost-written by Escobar. Knowing he couldn’t be sent to the U.S.
for a life-long stay in an isolated cell, Escobar made a deal with the Colombian government. He gave himself up and agreed to spend five
years in prison, only there was a catch. He would design the prison himself and be
guarded by people he wanted to guard him. This only could happen after handshakes with
some corrupt officials in the Colombian government. What Escobar had in mind was not exactly four
walls, a cement bed and a steel basin. In was in fact, quite the opposite. What he envisioned for his confinement was
more like an opulent palace, replete with all modern conveniences. This is why the place has been called “Hotel
Escobar” or “Club Medellín.” At the same time, his communications with
the outside world weren’t to be affected by his confinement, so in a way all that had
happened is he was being guarded from his enemies rather than being kept in. Escobar was well-aware that a lot of people
wanted him dead, so the location of his hotel-prison was on a mountain-top. He’d chosen this location after a scouting
trip with his brother. From there he could see anyone approaching,
and the place had telescopes for long distance surveillance. It was not an easy place to travel to, and
any enemies coming to get him would have had difficulties trying to navigate that mountain
terrain. The area was also covered in fog much of the
day which would make an air-assault very difficult. Suffice it to say, the prison was armed like
a fortress and included a large building that contained weapons and ammunition. Escobar’s hotel might not have looked too
luxurious from the outside, after all, he had to keep up the appearance that he was
being detained. It was surrounded by high walls and barbed
-wire fences. Once you got over those walls, though, things
were a little different. Escobar was a big fan of soccer, so of course
he had a soccer field where he and his men could have a kick-a-about. It was a quality pitch, too, and at one point
Escobar even invited the Colombian National Team to have a game there. According to hitman “Popeye”, on one occasion
all 22-players for the national team of ‘91 actually did make the trip up the mountain,
even though they required some off-road vehicles to get there. First they enjoyed a lunch fit for kings and
after that, Escobar donned a pair of his best cleats and grabbed hold of a ball. The slightly-overweight Escobar wasn’t exactly
in the same league as those guys, but they played along with him. He wasn’t the kind of man a player would
want to slide tackle. The prison guards served refreshments from
the sidelines, and after the game those same guards served drinks to Escobar and players
as they partied in the disco. As for the interior of the residence, it had
to be luxurious enough so that he could host parties there and people could sleep over
in rooms befitting a five-star hotel. The kitchen was grand, like that of a large
hotel, which had all state-of-the-art appliances. Escobar had his 42nd birthday up there and
he was in a mood to celebrate. He put on an elaborate dinner that was cooked
by chefs that had come from some of the finest restaurants in Medellin. Escobar loved his food, especially after he’d
had a few drinks and smoked some of his beloved weed. For his party, his family and many of his
closest friends were invited. On the menu that evening was turkey, smoked
salmon, smoked trout and caviar. Some of the rooms were what you call party
rooms, so people could play billiards or watch sports on the largest TV-screens of the day. There was a larger space where you could party
all night long, dancing under disco lights. The dance floor had a rotating disc in the
middle, so men could dance around the models Escobar occasionally invited up to his hotel
in the clouds. When models weren’t available, he would
invite escorts to his castle. They’d sneak up the mountain hidden in military
vehicles and then be taken down the next day. Money, women, provisions, would all be taken
up there secretly, usually when there was that cover of fog. Millions of dollars went up and down that
mountain. For relaxation he had a jacuzzi and sauna
fitted, while there was also a pool, gym and a waterfall. Unfortunately, the exotic animals he had once
had for his personal zoo didn’t end up on the mountain. He did, however, manage to build a life-size
dollhouse for when his daughter would come to visit. It’s thought during his time there he had
around 300 visits from guests, but the party would soon be over. The place wasn’t even completed when word
got out that Escobar had ordered the murder of two cartel members. Some say they were brutally tortured first,
while other accounts state they were just shot and buried inside the prison walls. The CIA was listening into his phone calls,
so Escobar had to start using carrier pigeons. If they were ever intercepted, on their legs
would be a little label that read, “Pablo Escobar—Maximum Security Prison—Envigado.” After staying up there for just over a year,
the Colombian government decided that it was time to send him to a normal prison, which
wasn’t to Escobar’s liking. Some factions of the government had found
out about his luxurious lifestyle in his mansion and weren’t happy about it. As to the agreement, they couldn’t move
Escobar, but they could condemn him to a cell if it was at the same facility. Escobar wasn’t in favor of staying in a
real cell, and the country’s extremely corrupt Bureau of Prisons obviously wasn’t up to
the job of building real cells. Even private contractors were too scared to
go up there, with one saying, “We are not going to build a cage with the lion already
inside.” Escobar had to be taken down from that mountain. In July, 1992, the 4th brigade of the Colombian
National Army surrounded La Catedral’s facility. They had in tow the country’s Vice Minister
of Justice. The men had guns pointed at the place, and
in at least one book it’s written that when Escobar ordered the men to lower their weapons,
they did. But when Escobar took that minister hostage
all hell broke loose. One man was killed and others were injured. It might never be known how he just managed
to walk out of that place, but he seemed to easily get past many armed men who’d been
trained by the United States Delta Force. He would evade capture for 16 more months,
and then he would be shot dead. If you liked this video then we’ve got two
more great episodes of The Infographics Show that are perfect for you. Check out this video over here or click on
the one over here. Don’t stop watching now, click now to keep
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