When Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-Mexican pharmaceuticals importer, was arrested in 2007 on charges that he was conspiring with the cartels to import the necessary raw materials to produce meth, he left behind this garish pink palace in Mexico City, along with the guns and $200M in cash he kept stashed there. That's just one in a series of mind-blowing vignettes from today's New York Times piece on the homes of accused drug kingpins:
"In Mexican novels, and in movies, the houses of the illicitly rich and infamous are louche, luxurious affairs, with toilets made of gold, mounds of cocaine or cash lying around and furniture of thronelike proportions. In the public imagination, what might be called 'narquitecture' or 'narco style' is all gaudy excess — part 'Real Housewives,' part 'Scarface,' part conquistador." Here now, some choice quotes from the story:
· "Imagine entering a furniture store and being told you had 60 seconds to choose the furnishings for 15 rooms. Most of us would freeze. But the houses of some capos suggest that they made snap decisions. As in, 'Give me one of everything.'"
· In another drug importer's lavish abode, "baroque tables mingled with minimalist leather couches, Oriental rugs and a knockoff of Picasso’s 'Guernica.'"
· The remnants of a police shootout, bullet holes, broken glass, and all, sit locked behind the locked doors of one more modest home.
· "The desert mansion of Amado Carrillo Fuentes — a drug lord famous for transporting cocaine in jumbo jets, and for dying after botched plastic surgery in 1997 — has even been called the Palace of 1,001 Nights, after the book of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories that included Aladdin."
· "Nearby, on top of the desk, were two nipples for baby bottles, an incongruous sight given that the floor below was a caricature of a bachelor pad, with black lights, red velvet curtains, zebra-print furniture, a bar and even a disco ball."
· "In the master bedroom, [a] boy’s school photo and a drawing he had made of mountains with loving messages for his parents ('te quiero mamá, te quiero papá') had been swept up in a pile with a velvet Fabergé case, a DVD of a movie titled 'The Corruptor' and a syringe. A security guard pointed out an empty case for a Beretta pistol."
· "In the early years, there were whimsical indulgences, like the guitar-shaped pool built by a Juárez don in the ’80s, and the castle as big as a house that he commissioned for his daughter’s dolls."
Head to the Times for a full photo gallery.