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Who Has the Best Halloween Costume: Pablo Escobar or El Chapo?

COLOMBIA / 29 OCT 2021 BY CHRIS DALBY EN

The fascination with "narco-culture" has taken over the entertainment and media industries: documentaries, TV shows, movies, podcasts, even a dedicated page on this website.

The families of fallen kingpins have launched clothing brands reflecting the sartorial choices of their idols.

But this unstoppable juggernaut has now set its sights on a new target: Halloween costumes.

Here, InSight Crime examines the quality and accuracy of costumes based on the two most famous criminals in Latin America:

SEE ALSO: Coverage of NarcoCulture

Pablo Escobar

The most commonly found costume for Pablo Escobar is an atrocity. The shirt is inspired by what he wore in his famous grinning mugshot, taken in May 1976 at a prison in Medellín. But it seems made of cheap material, even if it has the right prisoner number. The tan-colored trousers are strange as Escobar was known for mostly wearing jeans. The bag of cocaine, somehow, makes the whole affair even more offensive. The costume also omits the white sneakers associated with Escobar.

"Pablo Escobar didn't have especially good taste. He had 100 pairs of white sneakers and a pair of jeans. The only pair he wore to work were white sneakers; he had a whole room full of them," said Bina Daigeler, costume designer for Narcos, told Dazed magazine.

The true horror of Escobar costumes are the rubber masks that are so readily available. No rubber masks could ever look particularly accurate, but a wig and mustache would serve better here.



For those willing to DIY their own Escobar costumes for Halloween, there are plenty of resources available. According to Grazia Magazine, Escobar was regularly "ahead of the fashion game" in his use of shirts with stripes and wide collars, floral prints and rugby shirts.

However, the popularity of the show Narcos has blurred reality and fiction. Most of the articles breaking down Escobar's wardrobe appear to be taking inspiration from the show, not the man.

One notable exception was Escobar Henao, a clothing line launched by his son, which featured clothes based on his own, T-shirts with his mugshot and even a shirt bearing Escobar's special permit to enter the Colombian congress.

The brand was met with universal condemnation in Colombia and has now shut down.

SEE ALSO: Narco-Bling: El Chapo’s Wife Opens Fashion Line

El Chapo

In 2015, a Mexican company, Grupo Rev, launched a Halloween costume of El Chapo. As a marketing coup, it worked, attracting the attention of the Washington Post and government critics.

As a costume, however, it's a letdown. The costume was released only a few months after Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias "El Chapo," former head of the Sinaloa Cartel, escaped from prison a second time in July 2015.

"It was funny in a way for us to show criticism of our government after it arrested El Chapo and then watched him escape only a few months later," Diego Esponda, CEO of Grupo Rev, told the Washington Post.


To mark that occasion, the costume features him dressed in a prisoner's outfit, complete with black and white stripes. This is factually inaccurate. Federal prisoners in Mexico wear tan-colored uniforms or fatigues.

Unlike the grinning grimace of the Escobar mask, the El Chapo mask rather flatters the former kingpin. A stout, balding figure at the time of his arrest, El Chapo finds himself immortalized in rubber, with a full head of hair, a luxurious mustache and a rather handsome set of features. The costume does get his prisoner ID number, 3578-AJ, correct.

Additionally, El Chapo also had a sense of style apparently iconic enough to be worth its own fashion line. The costume does not include any aspect of El Chapo's particular fashion.

Both his daughter and wife have set up their own brands. In 2010, Mexico's Industrial Property Institute rejected such an attempt before allowing it in 2016 to his daughter. And in 2019, from prison in New York, Guzmán Loera signed a contract enabling his image and signature to be used on caps, jackets and other clothes.

Sadly, that's it. Pablo Escobar and El Chapo find their Halloween due, but InSight Crime could find no other specific example of Latin American gangsters. Naturally, every well-known American underworld figure has their costumes readily available, from Al Capone to Bonnie and Clyde. Even Bernie Madoff.

But no company has yet cashed in on the baseball cap, sunglasses and bling-bling chic of El Koki in Caracas, on the laid back white T-shirt and pencil mustache appeal of El Mencho, leader of the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación - CJNG) or on the sultry, wide-brimmed hats and figure-hugging dresses of Griselda Blanco.

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