“Plata o Plomo”
Escobar had a way of dealing with his enemies: he called it “plata o plomo”, literally, silver or lead. Usually, if a politician, judge or policeman got in his way, he would first attempt to bribe them, and if that didn’t work, he would order them killed, occasionally including their family in the hit.
Escobar: “The essence of the cocaine business was “simple – you bribe someone here, you bribe someone there, and you pay a friendly banker to help you bring the money back.”
In 1987 Escobar was the seventh-richest man in the world – working hard to cultivate his “Robin Hood” image, and frequently distributed money to the poor through housing projects and other civic activities, which gained him notable popularity among the poor.
In 1991, due to increasing pressure to extradite Escobar, the Colombian government and Escobar’s lawyers came up with an interesting arrangement: Escobar would turn himself in and serve a five-year jail term. In return, he would build his own prison and would not be extradited to the United States or anywhere else. The prison, La Catedral, was an elegant fortress which featured a Jacuzzi, a waterfall, a full bar and a soccer field. In addition, Escobar had negotiated the right to select his own “guards.” He ran his empire from inside La Catedral, giving orders by telephone. There were no other prisoners in La Catedral. Today, La Catedral is in ruins, hacked to pieces by treasure hunters looking for hidden Escobar loot.