Twenty-Six Years Ago, Pablo Escobar Was Arrested (Kind Of)

On June 19, 1991, the notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar surrendered himself to the Colombian police. At the time of his arrest, Escobar was a 41-year-old multibillionaire who had made his fortune through the international distribution of cocaine.

Escobar, however, only agreed to hand himself over to the Colombian police on his own terms. First he made sure that the laws were changed so that he would not be extradited to the United States. Another part of that deal was that Escobar would be given permission to build his own prison facility. Called La Catedral, but dubbed by some as Club Medellín, it was more like an luxury mansion than a prison, complete with a soccer field, jacuzzi and other amenities.

Pablo Escobar only spent about a year in his comfortable prison, where he continued to operate his drug empire. The Colombian government tolerated his illegal activities until he had four of his associates killed on its grounds. Before Escobar could be moved to an actual prison, he escaped and went into hiding. On December 2, 1993, the Colombian police found him in an apartment complex in Medellín. He attempted to flee through the rooftops but was shot to death.

As the leader of the Medellín Cartel, Escobar built his drug empire by moving cocaine across international borders. He began investing in cocaine after making a fortune trafficking marijuana and stealing cars. Escobar and Colombian drug dealers entered the U.S. in the 1970s, breaking the cocaine monopoly originally held by the Cubans. While the Cubans were using drug mules to bring in small amounts of the profitable powder, Escobar and his associates flew in kilos on planes.

By 1982, Pablo Escobar had an estimated personal fortune of $3 billion. His life has been dramatized on films and television shows, including the recent Netflix series Narcos. Today, some see Escobar as folk hero for his benevolence towards the poor, while others consider him as a villain who killed politicians, journalists, judges and other innocent people during his rise to power.


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