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Miami mansion once owned by drug lord Escobar garners nearly $10 million

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - A Miami businessman on Thursday purchased a waterfront mansion once owned by Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and said he plans to raze the coral pink house that federal officials seized in the late 1980s.

Christian Berdouare, the owner of a chain of casual Miami restaurants, paid $9.65 million for the 7,300-square-foot (680- square-meter) home in an affluent Miami Beach neighborhood, saying the location was its main attraction, not its history.

"If anything it's a negative," he said, referring to the property's link to Escobar. "I don't particularly like drug dealers and I don't want to have their energy close to me."

U.S. marshals seized the property in 1987 along with nearly $20 million of the Medellín Cartel's Florida real estate assets.

Also included in the seizure was a 45-unit apartment complex, a three-bedroom condominium near a high-end Miami mall, a horse ranch in central Florida and a 240-unit rental complex near Fort Lauderdale then worth $9.6 million.

Miami attorney Roger Schindler bought the mansion from the U.S. government in 1990 for $915,000.

Escobar, along with members of the Ochoa family who sat atop the cartel, were among the world's most wanted drug traffickers in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Escobar was gunned down in 1993 in Colombia with the help of U.S. counter-narcotics agents.

It is unclear if Escobar ever visited the Miami Beach home.

"According to neighbors and real estate agents he was definitely there," said Mirce Curkoski with ONE Sotheby's Realty who represented Berdouare in the sale.

Schindler said some neighbors described lots of activity at the house when it was owned by Escobar.

"They used to see boats coming up to the back yard," he said.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Eric Walsh)

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