Medellin is synonymous with the name Pablo Escobar, it’s un-deniable. Whether you’re familiar with Vinny Chase’s poor performance on Entourage, or you’re fascinated with the underworld like I am, you know the name.
Pablo Escobar is one of the most notorious criminals that has ever walked this earth. Supplying drugs all over the world, he became a billionaire several times over and left a permanent scar on Colombia’s image in the process. He is regarded as the richest, most successful criminal in history and in 1989, Forbes Magazine listed him as the 7th most wealthiest man in the world with an estimated fortune of $9 billion dollars. [Thanks wikipedia]
One of the first things I wanted to do in Medellin was to gain an understanding of where he operated, his influence on the city, how people view his legacy and some truth behind the Medellin Cartel.
Without wasting much time (day 2), I booked a spot on the Pablo Escobar Tour at the Kiwi Hostel with Paisa Road and headed out to see the sites where the evil-genius operated with impunity for so many years.
What amazed me the most about the entire tour was that he didn’t operate in the jungle or on the far perimeters of town, he ran shit right smack dab in the heart of Medellin.
Here’s a few shots from the Pablo Escobar Tour (proceed with caution):
Above is Escobar’s fortress where he had guards on lookout from the terraces. After he was killed, Medellin turned this building into a police station to take another stab at the already diciest Escobar.
Above was Pablo Escobar’s office building where he ran all his legal and illegal business operations. This is so fascinating to me because you would never know by walking by it that it was home to one of the most powerful criminal enterprises. Most likely, it was in this building that he worked to build his “Robin Hood” reputation by building soccer fields, churches and housing for the poor. I wonder what the secretaries were like?
This is the site of a drug transport plane graveyard where a few of the thousands of Pablo’s planes have been decommissioned.
Here is where it all went down. The final battle of Pablo Escobar’s life. This was Escobar’s humble home and hiding spot in the residential area of Los Olivos, Medellin. It was here that he was trying to blend in as a normal citizen to avoid the heat coming in from the Colombian government, US special forces and rival cartels.
The photo to the left was taken on the roof (just to the right) behind his house, where Pablo Escobar was finally captured and killed. On the sidewalk just to the right of the little tree (bottom right of photo) is where one of Pablo’s bodyguards was also killed trying to escape the home.
This is the cemetery where Escobar and some of his family members are buried. His brother is still alive and from what I understand is under protection in Colombia after a recent kidnapping attempt failed. His sisters have a hot wing restaurant in Envigado (down the street from my apartment). And his son (1 of 2), Juan Pablo (now Juan Sebastian Marroquín Santos) recently went to Buenos Aires to join up with an Argentinian filmmaker, Nicolas Entel to film the documentary Sins of My Father. This Chronicles Marroquín’s efforts to seek forgiveness from the sons of Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, Colombia’s justice minister in the early 1980s, who was assassinated in 1984, as well as the sons of Luis Carlos Galán, the presidential candidate, who was assassinated in 1989. The film was shown at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and premiered in the US on HBO on October 2010.
Here lies Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria - December 1, 1949 to December 2, 1993
Check out ESPN’s 30 for 30 Amazing Documentary titled “The Two Escobars” on YouTube:
One of the guides on the Pablo Escobar Tour recommended James Mollison’s The Memory of Pablo Escobar.