Griselda Blanco Restrepo (February 15, 1943 – September 3, 2012), known as La Madrina, the Black Widow, the Cocaine Godmother and the Queen of Narco-Trafficking, was a Colombian drug lord of the Medellín Cartel and a pioneer in the Miami-based cocaine drug trade and underworld during the 1980s, all the way to the early 2000s. It has been estimated that she was responsible for up to 200 murders while transporting cocaine from Colombia to New York, Miami and Southern California. She was shot and killed on September 3, 2012, at the age of 69.
Mugshot of Griselda Blanco, 1997
Griselda Blanco Restrepo
February 15, 1943
|Died||September 3, 2012 (aged 69)|
|Cause of death||Gunshot wounds|
|Other names||La Dama de la Mafia (The Lady of the Mafia)|
The Black Widow
|Net worth||U.S $2 billion (2012 estimate)|
|Spouse(s)||Zulma Andino Trujillo|
|Parent(s)||Ana Lucia Restrepo and Fernando Blanco|
|Criminal charge||Drug trafficking, murder|
Blanco was born in Cartagena, Colombia, on the country's north coast. She and her mother, Ana Lucía Restrepo, moved to Medellín when she was three years old. Upon arriving there, she quickly adopted a criminal lifestyle. Blanco's former lover, Charles Cosby, recounted that at the age of 11, Blanco allegedly kidnapped, attempted to ransom and eventually shot a child from an upscale flatland neighborhood near her own neighborhood. Blanco had become a pickpocket before she even turned 13. To escape the sexual assaults from her mother's boyfriend, Blanco ran away from home at the age of 16 and resorted to looting in Medellín until the age of 20.
Blanco was a major figure in the history of the drug trade from Colombia to Miami, New York, and California.
In the mid-1970s, Blanco and her second husband Alberto Bravo illegally immigrated to the US with fake passports, settling in Queens, New York. They established a sizable cocaine business there, and in April 1975, Blanco was indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges along with 30 of her subordinates. She fled to Colombia before she could be arrested, but returned to the United States, settling in Miami in the late 1970s.
Blanco's return to the US from Colombia more or less coincided with the beginning of very public violent conflicts that involved hundreds of murders and killings yearly which were associated with the high crime epidemic that swept the City of Miami in the 1980s. Law enforcement's struggle to put an end to the influx of cocaine into Miami led to the creation of CENTAC 26 (Central Tactical Unit), a joint operation between Miami-Dade Police Department and DEA anti-drug operation.
Blanco was involved in the drug-related violence known as the Miami Drug War or the Cocaine Cowboy Wars that plagued Miami in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This was a time when cocaine was trafficked more than marijuana. It was the lawless and corrupt atmosphere, primarily created by Blanco's operations, that led to the gangsters being dubbed the "Cocaine Cowboys" and their violent way of doing business as the "Miami drug war".
Her distribution network, which spanned the United States, brought in US$80,000,000 per month. Her violent business style brought government scrutiny to South Florida, leading to the demise of her organization and the free-wheeling, high-profile Miami drug scene of those times.
In 1984, Blanco's willingness to use violence against her Miami competitors or anyone else who displeased her, led her rivals to make repeated attempts to assassinate her. In an attempt to escape the hits that were called on her, she fled to California.
On February 17, 1985, she was arrested by DEA agents in her home and held without bail. After her trial, Blanco was sentenced to more than a decade in jail. While in prison, she continued to effectively run her cocaine business with the help of her son Michael Blanco.
By pressuring one of Blanco's lieutenants, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office obtained sufficient evidence to indict Blanco for three murders. However, the case collapsed due to technicalities relating to a telephone-sex scandal between the star witness and female secretaries in the DA's office. In 2002, Blanco suffered a heart attack while imprisoned.
On the night of September 3, 2012, Blanco died after having been shot twice in the head by a motorcyclist in Medellín, Colombia. She was shot at Cardiso butcher shop on the corner of 29th Street, after having bought $150 worth of meat; the middle-aged gunman climbed off the back of a motorbike outside the shop, entered, pulled out a gun, and shot Blanco twice in the head before calmly walking back to his bike and disappearing into the city. She was 69.
Blanco's first husband was Carlos Trujillo. Together they had three sons, Dixon, Uber, and Osvaldo, all of them poorly educated, and all of whom were killed in Colombia after being deported following prison sentences in the United States.
Her second husband was Alberto Bravo. In 1975, Blanco confronted Bravo, who was also her business partner, in a Bogotá nightclub parking lot about millions of dollars missing from the profits of the cartel they'd built together. The Guardian reports: "Blanco, then 32, pulled out a pistol, Bravo responded by producing an Uzi submachine gun and after a blazing gun battle he and six bodyguards lay dead. Blanco, who suffered only a minor gunshot wound to the stomach, recovered and soon afterwards moved to Miami, where her body count – and reputation for ruthlessness – continued to climb."
Blanco had her youngest son, Michael Corleone Blanco, with her third husband, Darío Sepúlveda. Sepúlveda left her in 1983, returned to Colombia, and kidnapped Michael when he and Blanco disagreed over who would take custody. Blanco paid to have Sepúlveda assassinated in Colombia, and her son returned to her in Miami.
According to the Miami New Times, "Michael's father and older siblings were all killed before he reached adulthood. His mom was in prison for most of his childhood and teenage years, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother and legal guardians." In 2012, Michael was put under house arrest after a May arrest on two felony counts of cocaine trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine.
Blanco was openly bisexual. According to The New York Post, "Court records show Blanco was a drug addict who consumed vast quantities of 'basuco', a potent form of smokeable, unrefined cocaine ... would force men and women to have sex at gunpoint, and had frequent bisexual orgies." Her "favorite possessions included an emerald and gold MAC-10 machine pistol, Eva Perón's pearls and a tea set once used by the Queen of England". The report continues: "In court, it was revealed that Blanco killed three former husbands as well as strippers, business rivals – and innocent bystanders, including a 4-year-old boy."
According to her youngest son Michael, Blanco became a born-again Christian. She had a personal relationship with Anna Cruz, whom she loved as her daughter; Anna cut ties with her when she found out who Blanco really was.
In popular cultureEdit
Rapper The Game references Griselda Blanco in his lyrics to "See No Evil" – "...karma catches up to all you head honchos/ Two dome shots to head, Griselda Blanco"
Rapper Jacki-O released a mixtape entitled Griselda Blanco, La Madrina (2010) as an ode to Blanco's lifestyle and character. Griselda Blanco's son, Michael Blanco, later gave his blessing to promote the mixtape.
Toronto Eastside rap duo Pengz and Two Two released the single "Griselda Blanco" in August 2017.
Rap group Migos have made references to her in multiple songs, "Portland" by Drake, and their own song "F*** Up the Pot".
Rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again references her in “Slime Belief” (2018)- “Can you make it better/ trap out like Griselda/ post up with barettes/ hustlin through the night
Rapper Slimesito has a song named “Griselda” which contains multiple references to Blanco.
Rapper Nicki Minaj a.k.a the Queen of Rap references her in her freestyle “Suge Remix” (2019)- “Drug lord, Griselda/ I used to move weight through Delta”.
A very fictionalized version of Blanco known as La Madrina appears in the Archer episode "Smuggler's Blues" (Season 5, Episode 7).
Griselda Blanco's life, from her abusive childhood to her tragic death, was covered on the June 5, 2018 episode of Behind the Bastards, a podcast hosted by Robert Evans.
- List of people deported or removed from the United States
- Pablo Escobar
- Enedina Arellano Félix, another well-known female alleged cartel leader
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