Pablo Escobar Life Mask

  The life mask of Pablo Escobar.
20” H x 12” W x 11” D
Accession Number:

In the late 20th century, Pablo Escobar was a leader of the Medellín Cartel—a violent drug cartel that primarily operated from Colombia. At that time, Colombian cartels produced and exported between 500 and 800 tons of cocaine a year. Members of the Medellín Cartel, including Escobar, bribed, terrorized, and even killed Colombian citizens and government officials to move and sell drugs.

Law enforcement targeted Escobar as the cartel’s kingpin. In June 1991, Escobar surrendered to authorities and was imprisoned. However, as a condition of his surrender, Escobar’s handpicked bodyguards were allowed to secure the prison. Escobar continued to operate his drug empire protected from both the Colombian government and his rivals.

The life mask was likely made during this “Golden Age” behind bars. Little is known about the mask’s production or materials, but Escobar would have sat for it to be cast. The eyes, lips, and skin are painted on to resemble the imprisoned kingpin.

Escobar escaped prison in July 1992, beginning the largest manhunt in Colombia’s history. DEA assisted the Colombian National Police in the pursuit of Escobar. On December 2, 1993, Escobar’s exact location was determined using electronic, directional-finding equipment. Escobar and his bodyguard attempted to escape by running across the roofs of adjoining houses, but the Colombian National Police shot and killed them.

The life mask was presented to DEA Administrator Thomas Constantine by the Colombian National Police along with a death mask of Escobar. The death mask is now on display at the DEA Museum, a grave reminder of the Medellín Cartel’s violent history.