Pablo Escobar White House, He Posed For A Picture In Front Of The Landmark.

In 1981, infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar defied authority, once again, by posing in front of the White House in Washington, DC. Pictured with his son, Pablo Escobar was on a family trip to Disneyland at the time and made a layover to the capital city for this photograph.

The photo, taken by his wife Maria, has been shared widely since it appeared in the 2010 HBO documentary Sins of My Father, which tells the story of the drug trafficker through the lens of his son Juan Pablo Escobar (who later changed his name to Sebastian Marroquin).

Let’s get into the story of this photograph in more detail. But before that, let’s take a brief detour into the life of this infamous and polarizing figure.

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Explain Who Pablo Escobar Was

Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar (1949-1993) amassed a fortune estimated at $30 billion at the height of his power. He was one of the wealthiest people alive because he cornered the market on cocaine at the turn of the century and distributed it all over the globe. At one point, Escobar, one of the most notorious criminals in history, was making $420 million in a single week from his cocaine business.

Escobar’s criminal career began in Medellin, where he grew up, with a series of petty crimes that included stealing, scamming, and forging documents and diplomas. Soon after, he entered the narcotics industry, where he amassed a massive fortune.

Pablo Escobar White House, He Posed For A Picture In Front Of The Landmark.
Pablo Escobar White House, He Posed For A Picture In Front Of The Landmark.

Profession in Crime

Pablo Escobar’s drug trafficking career began modestly in the mid-1970s. He would purchase plane tickets and sneak bags of cocaine onto the planes in his own name. In the 1980s, he had already built a massive drug distribution network and was sending cocaine all over the world via cargo plane.

As acceptance and consumption of the drug rose, so did the drug’s financial value. Escobar spent thousands of dollars a month on rubber bands to hold his cash because he was so wealthy. During the height of his power, his organization was responsible for the daily entry of 15 tonnes of cocaine into the United States. He knew he had to take precautions because he was on everyone’s most wanted list. But law enforcement agents eventually located and arrested him by late 1993.


Pablo Escobar was reviled by the majority of his countrymen, but he became a hero to the country’s working class because of his adept public relations and charitable giving. For the neighborhood’s working class, he constructed football fields, multi-sport courts, and community centers.

Escobar was finally killed on December 2, 1993, after a lengthy and costly manhunt that culminated in the discovery of his hideout in Medellin. After being shot multiple times, Escobar collapsed and tried to escape by running across several rooftops. The fatal wound came from one of the bullets. He was laid to rest in a Colombian family cemetery.

More than 25,000 people showed up to pay their respects, which is a reflection of his popularity among Colombia’s poor. Some people continue to venerate him as a martyr or even a saint, praying to him in the belief that he can provide them with heavenly assistance after his death.

Picture of the White House

Ironically, Pablo Escobar would have been far wealthier than the President of the United States at the time this picture was taken, when he was at the height of his power. At the time, Escobar was attempting to enter legitimate politics in his home country. It is unclear whether the diplomatic passport he presented was real or counterfeit. True, Escobar’s criminal career began with the forgery of official documents.

In his hometown of Medellin, he first served as a substitute congressman and then was elected to the city council. But the government of Colombia hated him and thought he was a major threat to the country. He was also blamed for perpetuating a negative generalization about Colombia as a whole. Color photographs of the White House were taken in front of an easily accessible facade on Pennsylvania Avenue. You can still stand here today, though the fence is much taller.

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Pablo Escobar’s Lasting Impact

Even nearly 30 years after his death, Pablo Escobar is divisive. Although he is widely viewed as a murderous autocrat, there is a subset of the population that sees him as a hero.

Several films and TV shows have focused on him or been loosely inspired by his life, ensuring his continued prominence in the public consciousness.