The vacation estate of the world’s wealthiest drug dealer is now open for tours near Puerto Triunfo, Colombia. It’s unlike anything a visitor would find from a vacation rentals Austin company. Pablo Escobar carried the title of Columbian cocaine kingpin for a number of years in the 1980s and 1990s before Columbian and American drug agents gunned him down in 1993.
Pink Hippos in a Skirt
The drug kingpin’s estate, called Hacienda Napoles, is now a theme park packed with oddities that Escobar loved. The 7,000 acre ranch features dinosaur statues, recreational buildings, a butterfly conservatory and a pink hippo in a hula skirt.
Born in 1949 to a farmer and school teacher in the small town of Rionegro, Pablo engaged in criminal activities at a young age by selling illegal cigarettes and stealing cars. He made his first $100,000 by kidnapping and ransoming a Medellin official.
From this start, Escobar plunged into the illicit cocaine trade. He bought planes and helicopters to move cocaine between Columbia and the United States. One of those planes now sits atop the entrance to the hacienda. He made so much money off the drug trade that he spent $2,500 monthly for rubber bands to wrap stacks of one-hundred dollar bills. He had more cash than he could possibly store in banks, so he built warehouses to hold the loot.
Submarines Used to Run Cocaine
He eventually bought an entire island in the Bahamas called Norman’s Cay. He built a 3,300-foot runway there to carry the drugs to different points for distribution. The island also had a hotel, a harbor, a fleet of aircraft and a refrigerated warehouse to maintain the cocaine’s freshness. Escobar used this island from 1978 to 1982.
In 1982, Escobar moved and bought seven miles of land in Columbia where he would construct Hacienda Napoles. He built a zoo, dug a lake and opened a recreation center here. He ordered two submarines to transport the cocaine loads. It’s estimated that Escobar shipped 80 tons of cocaine a month from here.
He established relations with local government officials that were dominated by a diplomacy he called silver or lead. Politicians and police were given the choice of taking generous bribes or getting shot. At this point of his career, Forbes magazine estimated his wealth at $3 billion. He built soccer stadiums in Medillin and gave away money to the poor. He also paid for the construction of hospitals, churches and schools. For that, he was considered by many as a hero.
On December 2, 1993, a Columbian anti-drug team found Escobar and shot him dead in Medellin.
Camp in the Kingpin’s Estate
Visitors can tour this narco-terrorist’s former home, which is now a museum. A pink hippo statue in a hula skirt greets visitors. Parrots make themselves at home. A pterodactyl sculpture is framed in mid-flight, swooping down for a landing at a pond.
Visitors can climb up a guard tower at the estate to survey the grounds where they will see a bull fighting ring. He also built a butterfly conservatory on the grounds. Those who wish can camp here overnight.