The new home of Colombian drug boss Pablo Escobar is a luxurious jail with a 1,000-square-foot cell in a lush pine forest on a mountain he once controlled.
The 41-year-old drug baron, leader of the Medellin cocaine cartel blamed for hundreds of killings in a battle with the government over the past two years, settled into the jail Thursday along with several of his associates who also surrendered.Escobar chose the jail in his home town of Envigado, where his cocaine cartel controlled the local government and bought up much of the land. Envigado is a suburb of Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city.
His jail boasts huge bedrooms with walk-in closets and private baths, a soccer field, a game room, lawns and a panoramic view of the Medellin valley.
The government allowed reporters to tour the jail last week after Escobar requested that it do so. He said in a communique that he wanted journalists to see for themselves that it was not "a five-star hotel."
However, many of the correspondents left the facility astounded by its comfort.
The jail's largest cell, where Escobar may be staying, is a two-room suite with about 1,000 square feet of space.
Prisoners are allowed to move around freely throughout most of the jail.
Escobar was allowed to dictate security arrangements there. Authorities met his demand to have the army, not the more anti-drug police, guard its perimeters.
Internal security is handled by a joint force of national prison guards and workers from Envigado's city government, which has always maintained close contact with the cartel.
The 2.5-acre compound is surrounded by guard towers and an electrified fence. The heavy security is designed more to protect Escobar from intruders than to prevent escapes.
Escobar insisted on the Envigado facility apparently believing it was the only place in Colombia where his enemies couldn't get at him.
On Thursday scores of Envigado residents trekked up a long dirt road to catch a glimpse of the jail.
When a government helicopter carrying Escobar hovered over the jail Wednesday, bystanders shouted "Pablo" and "Viva Colombia."