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ome people still don’t perceive the power Pablo Escobar had during his reign as a drug lord in Colombia. He managed to create an underground system that smuggled over 15 tons of cocaine every day around the world. To give you a better understanding of how rich this man became, he was spending $1,000 per week on rubber bands to wrap the stacks of cash.

With so much money there comes a lot of power as with money anything can be done because everyone has a price. The “King of Cocaine” as he has been nicknamed around the world knew that he would be sooner or later caught by the authorities, so as the clever businessman he was, he decided to negotiate his arrest with the authorities.

Negotiating his own arrest

At the time Colombia was filled with corrupt politicians and police that were either being bought by Escobar or killed. The Colombian government knew that as long as Escobar was free there would be no chance for corruption to decrease, so there was only one thing to do.

On the other side, even Escobar was fed up with constantly being on the run for the previous 20 years so he decided to negotiate his own arrest, something that no criminal had ever done before.

The proposal offered by Escobar to the Colombian authorities was that he would give himself up and would be willing to be prosecuted for how many years they wanted to give him but he would spend all of his time in his own prison which he would build.

Pablo Escobar’s mug shot in 1991 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Haven’t you ever wondered why he is smiling in his mugshot?

This prison was to have security 24/7 with electrified walls, but apart from that, the prison would follow Escobar’s own rules and he would be the only one imprisoned inside. It wasn’t just the Colombian authorities but an Interpol of different forces around the world that were desperately trying to put an end to Escobar’s drug trafficking network.

Therefore the authorities gave in to Escobar’s demand arresting him in 1991 and sentencing him to five years of prison under his own demands, in his own prison, and with no extradition.

La Catedral

Although the prison may look somewhat like a normal prison do not be fooled by the guard posts outside as this prison was extremely luxurious and had no rules whatsoever. The prison was built near his hometown in the mountainside, hidden from his enemies. All of the prison’s “security” was chosen by Escobar, they weren’t there to make sure that Escobar didn’t escape, but to protect him from his numerous enemies.

Although at the time Colombia had extradition agreements, they had to change the law just for Escobar so they could keep their side of the promise and not allow the American Government to sentence him on American soil. This created a huge controversy around the world which angered the U.S. Government, however, this was the only viable way to imprison Escobar.

His imprisonment didn’t stop him from conducting his usual business. Just because Escobar was imprisoned it didn’t mean that the network of drug trafficking stopped, although many problems were created by Escobar’s absence.

a view from the garden of the prison (Source: The Life Imagine Collection)

The prison was nicknamed “La Catedral” (The Cathedral) or “Hotel Escobar” as it was more like a vacation home rather than a prison. The place had everything from a football court to a swimming pool and even a beautiful garden with an amazing view.

During his so-called imprisonment, Escobar was visited by over 300 people which were secretly brought to the prison. These were made up of prostitutes, family members, and even other convicted criminals that were on the run.

A picture from the camera recording of a transport van with prostitutes being smuggled inside the prison (Source: The Life Imagine Collection)

With the monthly transport of supplies to the prison, there was also the smuggling of other types of contraband such as alcohol, cash, drugs, and even weapons inside the prison. Prison for Escobar was more like criminal heaven. He was actually better off inside his own prison than any other place in the world.

In 1992, the Colombian government was heavily pressured by all the criticism it was receiving around the world for the choice it had made to play along with Escobar. Enough was enough, the country decided to hand over Escobar to the American Government.

The Colombian army was sent to escort Escobar to the nearest airport, however, Escobar was long gone. With the money he had, he was able to have ears in every place, that is how he knew about the drastic decision made by the Colombian Government. Meaning that he only served 13 months of his five-year sentence.

On the 2nd of December 1993, he was killed in a shootout. Money can buy all the power in the world, but the more money you have the more enemies you will end up making and money can’t stop bullets.

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