Related topics

Pablo Escobar Built His Own Jail, Colonel Says

December 18, 1991 GMT

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Medellin drug boss Pablo Escobar paid for and designed the building that now serves as his jail, according to excerpts from a book by a retired army colonel published Tuesday.

The jail boasts a panoramic view of the Medellin valley, two-room ″cells″ with walk-in closets, grassy gardens and a large game room. It sits in the misty hills surrounding Escobar’s home town of Envigado.

″Pablo Escobar knew very well that all these details were nothing less than proof that it wasn’t he who was surrendering to Colombian justice, but rather Colombian justice which was surrendering to him,″ Col. Augusto Bahamon wrote in ″My War In Medellin,″ excerpts of which appeared in Semana magazine.

Bahamon until five months ago was the chief army official at Escobar’s jail. He retired in August after being reprimanded for allegedly allowing Colombian soccer star Rene Higuita to visit Escobar without proper authorization.

Bahamon said the drug baron dictated to authorities how to build the facility and who should guard it.

It was built ostensibly as a drug rehabilitation center for teenagers, but Escobar had his eventual surrender in mind, the colonel said.

Last June, Escobar and 17 of his associates surrendered in exchange for government promises of reduced jail sentences and immunity from extradition.

Bahamon said the office of the mayor of Envigado carried out Escobar’s orders for building the jail. As an example, he cited Escobar’s instructions for improving the drainage system of the jail’s soccer field.

Bahamon said the government also accepted the drug lord’s demands to hire 20 employees of Envigado Mayor Mario Rodriguez to guard the facility.

″Eleven had criminal records themselves,″ the colonel wrote.

Before a massive government crackdown on the Medellin cartel in 1989, Escobar had turned Envigado into his personal fiefdom, even setting up his own police force.

Some police and political leaders have charged that Escobar continues to run drugs and order killings from prison.

The administration of President Cesar Gaviria has justified its leniency program for drug traffickers by saying that it has reduced terrorism and weakened the cartel.