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 through the early 2000s. It has been estimated that she was responsible for up to 2,000 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. At her height, Blanco was one of the richest and most dangerous women in the world, and was the most powerful drug kingpin in the world. She became the first-ever billionaire female criminal, ruling her multi-billion dollar drug trafficking empire with an iron fist, and becoming one of the deadliest women of all time.
Griselda Blanco Restrepo
February 15, 1943
|Died||September 3, 2012 (aged 69)|
|Cause of death||murder|
|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 on the country's north coast. She and her mother, Ana Black, 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 4, 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 of her mother's boyfriend, Blanco ran away from home at the age of 9 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 18, 1985, she was arrested by cops in her home and held with full bail. After they sent her to prison she tried to escape, 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 District attorney's office. In 2002, Blanco suffered a heart attack while imprisoned.
On the night of September 3, 2012, Blanco died after being shot twice; once in the head and once in the shoulder 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 two times before calmly walking back to his bike and disappearing into the city. She was 69.
She has been featured in several documentaries and films. She features prominently in the documentary films Cocaine Cowboys (2006) and Cocaine Cowboys 2 (2008; also written as Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustlin' With the Godmother).
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 had 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. He appeared on a 2018 episode of the Investigation Discovery documentary series, Evil Lives Here, to recount his lonely childhood. In 2019, he was featured in the VH1 docuseries Cartel Crew, which follows the descendants of drug lords. He also runs a clothing brand, "Puro Blanco," that refers to his infamous mother.
- Griselda Blanco is portrayed by the colombian actress Luces Velásquez in 2012 TV Series Pablo Escobar, The Drug Lord as the character of Graciela Rojas.
- In 2017 film Cocaine Godmother is portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones.
- In 2018, Griselda was mentioned in the chorus of NBA Young Boy’s song Slime Belief.
- List of people deported or removed from the United States
- Pablo Escobar
- Enedina Arellano Félix, another well-known female alleged cartel leader
- Brown, Ethan (July 2008). "Searching for the Godmother of Crime". Maxim. Alpha Media Group: 94–98. ISSN 1092-9789. Archived from the original on June 14, 2010. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
- "Comienza extinción de dominio a bienes de Griselda Blanco en Antioquia – RCN Radio". RCN Radio (in Spanish). September 9, 2015. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
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- "Her mother's name". Semana (in Spanish).
- Corben, Billy (director); Cosby, Charles (himself); Blanco, Griselda (herself) (July 29, 2008). Cocaine Cowboys 2: Hustlin' with the Godmother (DVD). Magnolia Home Entertainment. ASIN B00180R03Q. UPC 876964001366. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
- Cosby, Charles. "Charles Cosby: From Early Childhood to Cocaine and Hustlin'". The Blog Union.
- Gugliotta, Guy; Leen, Jeff (July 16, 2011). Kings of Cocaine: Inside the Medellín Cartel – An Astonishing True Story of Murder, Money and International Corruption. Garrett County Press. Retrieved June 19, 2016 – via Google Books.
- "Griselda Blanco: hasta nunca y gracias por la coca". VICE – España. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- Corben, Billy (director); Roberts, Jon (actor); Sunshine, Al (actor); Burstyn, Sam (actor); Munday, Mickey (actor); Palumbo, Bob (actor) (January 23, 2007). Cocaine Cowboys (DVD). Magnolia Home Entertainment. ASIN B000KLQUUS. UPC 876964000635. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
- United States v. Griselda Blanco, 861 F.2d 773 (2d Cir. 1988)
- Lathem, Niles (June 8, 2000). "QUEENS NOW RULE WHERE KINGPINS ONCE REIGNED: WOMEN ARE RUNNING DRUG RINGS AFTER FALL OF COLOMBIAN sex CARTELS". New York Post.
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- Robles, Frances & Bargent, James (September 5, 2012). "The life and death of 'cocaine godmother' Griselda Blanco". Miami Herald.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Evans, Greg (May 18, 2017). "Lifetime Greenlights 'Cocaine Godmother' Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones". Deadline.com. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
- Brown, Scott (June 6, 2017). "Hollywood North: Catherine Zeta-Jones filming 'Cocaine Godmother' in Vancouver". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
- Wagmeister, Elizabeth (August 10, 2016). "Jennifer Lopez to Star as Drug Lord Griselda Blanco in HBO Film". Variety. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- McNary, Dave (April 17, 2020). "Reed Morano in Talks to Direct Jennifer Lopez Drug Lord Drama 'The Godmother'". Variety. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- Alvarado, Francisco (October 13, 2011). "Michael Corleone Blanco lives in the shadow of his cocaine-queen mother". Miami New Times. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
- Alvarado, Francisco (September 5, 2012). "Griselda Blanco's Son Michael Corleone Still Faces Cocaine Trafficking Charge in Miami". Miami New Times. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
- Pablo Escobar and Colombian Narcoculture by Aldona Bialowas Pobutsky, 163-164
- Swartz, James A. Substance Abuse in America: A Documentary and Reference Guide. p. 193.
- Hornberger, Francine. Mistresses of mayhem: the book of women criminals. p. 32.
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- "'Cocaine Cowboys' Griselda Blanco, Real-Life 'Female Tony Montana', Gunned Down in Colombia". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
- Smitten, Richard (November 1, 1990). The Godmother: the true story of the hunt for the most bloodthirsty female criminal of our time. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0-671-70193-2. Archived from the original on February 7, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
- Pablo Escobar and Colombian Narcoculture by Aldona Bialowas Pobutsky