In the 1970s, Pablo Escobar became arguably the most powerful man in Colombia with the help of the cocaine trade that made the Medellín Cartel one of the most profitable and formidable criminal enterprises on the planet.
The infamous kingpin was eventually killed in the shootout that erupted when law enforcement officials attempted to apprehend him in Medellín in 1993, and while that may have ended his decades-long reign, he made a mark on the country that can still be felt to this day.
That legacy includes the descendants of the four “cocaine hippos” Escobar kept in captivity at Hacienda Nápoles, the massive compound he constructed that was also home to a private airport and a Formula 1 racetrack where he could take his collection of luxury cars for a spin.
Those hippos were released into the wild following Escobar’s death before sparking a bit of an environmental crisis thanks to the combination of their tendency to reproduce at an impressive rate and pollute the areas they call home with the “toxic poop” that’s wreaked havoc on the local ecosystem.
While hippos aren’t native to Colombia, wildlife officials estimate around 150 of them currently roam the country—a number that could potentially rise to 1,400 by 2039 if authorities are unable to keep the population in check.
Some steps have been taken in an attempt to curb the proliferation of the cocaine hippos, which also pose a hazard that was highlighted when one of them was recently struck and killed in a car crash that thankfully didn’t result in any serious injuries to the person behind the wheel.
Now, El País reports the battle has escalated to a new level with the help of an international ally that’s offered to take some of the hippos off of Colombia’s hands.
According to the outlet, Ostok Sanctuary (located in Sinaloa, the Mexican state where “El Chapo” ran a criminal empire of his own) has taken custody of 10 hippos that were airlifted to Mexico thanks to Ernesto Zazueta, a conservationist who shelled out $450,000 in order to facilitate their relocation.
Zazueta says he’s also found another sanctuary in India that’s willing to accept 60 members of the cocaine hippo gang and that the eventual goal is to ship the animals to Africa so they can spend the rest of their days in the vicinity of the Nile River.
Only time will tell if things go according to plan, but it seems like a major step in the right direction.