Pablo at the opening of a football pitch, he had paid for, c.1982 Ivan Restrepo’s photographs

‘The people loved him, because politicians used to arrive, promise things and then nothing would happen. Pablo would say, “I promise to floodlight the pitch, to put a bell in the church, paint the school …”, and the next day we would start work.’

Jamie Gaviria, Pablo’s Cousin’

While in Colombia researching an idea for a photographic project called Narcotecture, I found a bag of photographs on Pablo Escobar’s private prison. It set me on a journey for the next 3 years searching for visual material and meeting people who knew Pablo Escobar. Pablo Escobar was ‘the richest and most violent gangster in history’, the head of the Medellin Cartel, which was responsible for supplying 80 per cent of the world’s cocaine during the 1980s. In an attempt to avoid extradition to the USA, he declared war on the Colombian state and thousands died as a result. For this brief web version I have extended the visual intro to the book.