Secret lairs of world’s most notorious criminals with ‘murder rooms’ and zoos

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Welcome to the secret lairs of the world’s most notorious crime lords, where they once enjoyed lives of luxury – before swapping their plush hideouts for prison bars.

A home that Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán once used is set to be raffled off by the nation’s government to raise cash for Covid vaccines and comes complete with an escape tunnel under a hot tub.

Brutal leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, he is currently serving life in a US prison, but used the secret passageway, connected to a storm drain, to flee police in 2014.

The property in Culiacan, complete with reinforced steel doors, is just one of a string of homes once owned by the 64-year-old.

Here Daily Star goes inside the former residences of the world’s most notorious gangsters…

El Chapo

Once said to have ranches in every state and homes on every beach in Mexico, El Chapo amassed an £11billion fortune from drug trafficking.

He was linked to the brutal murder of rivals, as well as daring escapes from prison – once absconding in a laundry basket and, on another occasion, on a motorbike through a tunnel.

Nicknamed "Shorty", the 5ft 6in crime boss was never short of a few bob and had a string of other boltholes with secret exits like the one being raffled for £9 a ticket in September.

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Along with a multi-million-pound beach house in Acapulco, above, he also owned a private zoo in Guadalajara where he rode a train to see his lions and crocs when not enjoying the property’s swimming pools and ­tennis courts.

One of the drug baron’s mansions is even said to have had a gruesome white-tiled "murder room".

Owner of a gold-plated AK-47 and a yacht called Chapito, police found garages at El Chapo’s homes full of Jaguars and luxury Mercedes limousines after he was arrested. El Chapo was jailed in 2019.

Amado Carrillo Fuentes

A luxury mansion where another Mexican kingpin Amado Carrillo Fuentes lived is also being sold off – but it’s just one of dozens of homes he’s thought to have owned on both sides of the US border.

Worth an estimated £2.7million and located in a posh Mexico City suburb, the Juárez cartel boss’ former nine-bedroom villa boasts spas, saunas, a ballroom, wine cellars, and a large indoor pool.

It was auctioned off last year for £1.6million but the purchase fell through.

Nicknamed "Lord of the Skies" after the fleet of planes he used to carry cocaine globally and worth £20billion, Carrillo Fuentes died in 1997, aged 40, after botched plastic surgery to change his appearance in a bid to avoid capture.

Another of his properties, an Aladdin-style home in Hermosillo, Mexico, featuring hot tubs with mirrors and a network of secret tunnels has since been demolished.

Pablo Escobar

Masterminding a cocaine empire as head of the Medellín Cartel, the Colombian crime boss built up a whopping £24billion fortune and was linked to kidnappings, murder, and bombings.

He lavished much of his ill-gotten gains on his 5,500-acre Hacienda Napoles estate which, as well as six swimming pools, featured a private zoo with hippos, a bullfighting ring, race track, airport, and gate topped with a plane.

Since he was shot dead by police aged 44 in 1993, the ranch has been turned into a theme park.

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Other homes owned by Escobar included a 6,500sq ft pink mansion in Miami and a hideaway on the coast of Tulum, Mexico, which has been turned into a luxury boutique hotel.

Even when he initially surrendered to the Colombian authorities in 1991 he lived in a self-designed luxury prison nicknamed "The Cathedral" featuring a gym, billiards room, bar, disco, sauna, jacuzzi, a waterfall, and life-sized dollhouse for his daughter to play in.

Al Capone

The American prohibition gangster was famous for his bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution rackets while heading up Chicago’s South Side Gang.

But "Scarface" was at his beautiful sun-drenched mansion in Palm Island, Miami, when he planned the infamous St Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929 which saw seven rivals gunned down in the Windy City.

Capone paid around £29,000 for his lush 30,000ft waterside crib, then spent £144,000 adding maximum security features such as a 7ft wall.

Boasting four luxury bedrooms and a huge 30x60ft pool the property was recently valued at nearly £11million. Capone died there in 1947 after serving time in Alcatraz for tax evasion.

Terry Adams

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As part of the UK’s most notorious modern-day criminal family, he ran the Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate with brothers Patsy and Tommy, worth an estimated £200million.

Dubbed "worse than the Krays" by police, the gang has been linked to everything from drug trafficking to murder.

Terry lived in the £1.6 million six-bedroom, 4,600ft mansion Fallowfield in Barnet, north London, with wife Ruth, which boasted a £12,000 security system.

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The antique lover stuffed it with treasures including a grand piano, gigantic harp, and even a huge portrait of Al Pacino as the Godfather.

But Adams, 66, who had also owned a Cyprus villa and yacht, was jailed for money laundering in 2007. Having since had to pay back £750,000, according to reports he was recently living in a council house.

John "Goldfinger" Palmer

Once reckoned to be worth £300million, the British gangster got his moniker from suspected involvement in the £26million Brinks Mat gold bullion robbery of 1983.

He was jailed in 2001 for a £30million timeshare swindle.

Later Palmer settled in a gated, woodland mansion in South Weald, Essex, with partner Christina.

But in June 2015, the 65-year-old was shot six times in his garden in what has been described as a “contract killing” with the killer avoiding the home’s multiple CCTV cameras.

Palmer was linked to the 2015 Hatton Garden jewel thieves and his murder remains unsolved.

  • Crime
  • El Chapo
  • Property

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