Pablo Escobar is a famous drug lord that most of us have found out about through the popular drug traffickers TV series on Netflix. Despite his fame, quite a few facts about this drug lord have gone under the radar! Here are 10 things you probably won’t find in a local history book about this drug lord.
Related: The 10 Weirdest Ways People Smuggled Drugs
10 He is the reason why there are hippos in Colombia
Pablo Escobar is well known for importing and exporting drugs from Colombia. However, that’s not all he cared about. He also imported a herd of hippos for his private zoo!
After the fall of the drug lord, hippos were not killed or exported. Instead, they were allowed to run wild and have now made the areas along the Amazon River their habitat. The animals have adapted extremely well to the South American climate, which is similar to the environment in Africa they originally called home.
And while some of the hippos are contained in Pablo’s former property turned amusement park, others roam free.
Today, the debate continues over whether the hippos should be sacrificed to leave Pablo’s legacy behind, or whether they should be protected as part of Colombian history.
9 He was one of the main promoters of the transformation of Medellín
Medellin has become a tourist spot in recent years. In fact, it has been listed as one of the main destinations in South America to visit.
However it was not always so. And it is largely thanks to Pablo Escobar that he has gained so much fame. No, we’re not talking about how he put it on the map. We’re talking about how the city has done a great renaissance to remove the drug lord of the past from him.
In order to overcome violence, hardship and crime in the city, the government has spent the last 30 years investing money in city improvements. The result has been some incredible transformations, including Colombia’s only metro system.
Additionally, the city has worked hard to remove places that are connected to Escobar, replacing them with parks and cultural spaces. The Monaco building, for example, where Escobar once lived, was destroyed just two years ago and replaced by a memorial park dedicated to the victims of the kingpin’s violent reign.
8 It is speculated if his death was a suicide
Although the United States DEA assumes responsibility for the capture and murder of Pablo Escobar on the roofs of some houses in Medellín, some say that this was not what really happened. You see, according to Escobar’s son, the kingpin was an expert at avoiding the police. He had strict rules to keep himself and his family safe by staying undercover, avoiding phone calls and more.
Even though Escobar knew the DEA was after him and was actively monitoring his calls, he called his son from a phone line. In the call, he indicated his whereabouts and made a kind of strange goodbye, telling his son to stay safe. Just hours later, the DEA ambushed Escobar on nearby rooftops and shot him dead.
While many people say that this was thanks to detective work, the behavior seems strange. It leaves many people wondering if Escobar really wanted to get caught and if he was ready for his time as the tyrant of Medellín to be over.
7 He was a family man
It may be hard to believe, considering the violence and destruction Pablo Escobar caused, but he actually loved his family very much.
According to his wife and children, Pablo did everything he could to make sure they were safe, protected, and loved. He could do something as horrible as torture a man and then go home and act as if it never happened.
On top of that, Pablo made sure that his children learned key values about kindness and benevolence. While he may seem strange to us now, it seems that Escobar knew deep down that what he was doing was wrong and he wanted a better life for his children.
His efforts also seem to have paid off, as his family remained safe despite all his shady dealings. They are still alive and well today, although they are quite private and out of the public eye.
6 His prison wasn’t really a prison
In 1991, Pablo Escobar made a deal with the Colombian government in which he agreed to serve a prison term in exchange for avoiding extradition to the United States. Pablo knew that the consequences of the extradition would be much more severe than his punishment on Colombian soil.
However, although Pablo agreed to spend five years in jail, he was going to do it on his own terms. He had a private prison built, where he would be imprisoned for the time he had left. As you can imagine, the kingpin built something that was pretty far from a prison. Instead, he built a giant party house with a bar, nightclub, and billiards room, among other things.
He received regular visitors and lived a lavish lifestyle. Sure, he was out of the public eye, but in his eyes, he was living like a king.
5 You can meet his brother if you visit Medellin
While Escobar’s wife and children lead a quiet life out of the public eye, there is one member of his family who does not. In fact, that family member is alive, well, and making mints with Escobar’s dark fame. That person is his brother.
There are a number of Pablo Escobar tours in Medellín that are frequently taken by foreign tourists. At the end of the tour, which takes you through famous places in Medellín that are related to the life of the drug lord, you will have the opportunity to have a coffee with Pablo’s older brother, Roberto.
Roberto is a relatively quiet and reserved man, but he is more than happy to talk about days gone by. He will also pose with foreigners for a photo and give you more context on what life was like during the dark days of the young Escobar’s reign.
4 One of his old houses is now a theme park
Although the luxurious Monaco building was destroyed a few years ago, there is one Escobar property that was not destroyed: Hacienda Nápoles.
Hacienda Nápoles was one of Escobar’s many vacation homes in the Antioquia countryside. What makes this place unique is that instead of choosing to destroy the building, the Antioquia government decided to turn it into an amusement park. Today, there are water slides, swimming pools, and a petting zoo that you can visit.
You won’t find any reference to Paul there either. Unless he gets the inside scoop on the ranch, he’ll never realize what a dark past this place has.
3 Its former prison has been converted into a monastery
Do you remember the huge luxury prison that the cocaine kingpin built? This place, like so many other areas associated with Pablo Escobar, has become a place with a positive future.
The Cathedral, as it is called, remained inactive for many years after the fall of Escobar. In fact, the prison was almost in ruins when a group of monks bought the property and began the rebuilding process. The monks renamed the prison complex The Virgin Unties Knots and turned it into a place of worship. Both the monks and the surrounding locals regularly gather there for worship.
You can still visit the prison and meet and talk to the monks. However, you will find a place very different from the one where Escobar lived years ago.
2 Your old gardener hid in a bombed-out house for years
Many of Pablo’s former properties have been converted to overwrite his dubious past. However, one building that has not been renovated and transformed is his Hacienda La Manuela, a property that sits on the shores of the Guatapé reservoir.
This property was destroyed by a bomb in 1993, just months before the kingpin was shot dead. Before that, it had been one of Escobar’s most prized properties.
Even after the bombing, Escobar’s gardener/guard stayed at the house, living there illegally and offering narco tours to anyone who wanted to see the place. Many tourists headed there hoping to find money left over from the property from the drug lord’s heyday, but so far nothing has been found.
A few years ago, the Colombian government took control of the property and today it is prohibited. Still, there are sketchy tours that will take you to the property if you really want to go. And if you don’t want to take the risk, you can check it from a distance on one of the boat trips that usually take place.
1 Almost became president of Colombia
It may seem hard to believe, considering the amount of violence he was responsible for, but Pablo Escobar was actually an extremely popular figure for many people in Medellín. While most people were aware of his violent crimes, his intimidation tactics, and his way of getting what he wanted, Escobar had still taken the time to endear himself to his community.
You see, Escobar worked like a modern-day Robin Hood to earn the love and support of the townspeople. He donated incredible amounts of money to the poor in certain areas of the city, giving money in exchange for favors and buying his silence.
The result is that many of the poorest people in the city considered him a hero and someone who helped them have a better life. In fact, Pablo became so popular that he decided to try his hand at running for president. His campaign was so successful that if it weren’t for Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, who delivered a public speech on the drug lord’s crimes, he probably would have won the presidency.
Although Bonilla saved the country from being ruled by a tyrant, he paid the price with his life.
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