Griselda Blanco (February 15, 1943 – September 3, 2012), later known as The Cocaine Godmother, was a drug lord for the Medellín Cartel and a pioneer in the Miami-based cocaine drug trade and underworld during the 1970s and early 1980s.
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. In the documentary film Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustlin’ with the Godmother, Blanco’s former lover, Charles Cosby, recounted how Blanco, at age 11, allegedly kidnapped, tried to ransom, and eventually shot a child from an upscale flatland[clarification needed] neighborhood near her own slum neighborhood.
By her preteens, she had become a pickpocket, and at the age of 14 she ran away from her allegedly physically abusive mother. Blanco resorted to prostitution for a few years in Medellín, until age 20. She married her first husband, Carlos Trujillo, and bore three sons: Dixon, Uber, and Osvaldo. In the mid-1970s, Blanco and her second husband, Alberto Bravo, emigrated to the United States, 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, at that time the biggest cocaine case in history. She fled to Colombia before she could be arrested, but in the late 1970s she returned to Miami. This is what led to Blanco’s mass murders.
Blanco was involved in much of the drug-related violence known as the Cocaine Cowboy Wars that plagued Miami in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when cocaine supplanted marijuana.
Her distribution network, which spanned the United States, brought in US$80 million 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. She was suspected of masterminding over two hundred murders.
In 1984, Blanco’s willingness to use violence against her Miami competitors, or anyone who displeased her, led her rivals to make repeated attempts to kill her. She moved to California to escape the assassination attempts. On 20 February 1985, she was arrested by DEA agents in her home. Held without bail, Blanco was sentenced to more than a decade in jail. She continued to run her cocaine business while in jail. By pressuring one of her lieutenants, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office obtained sufficient evidence to indict her for three murders. However, the case collapsed, largely due to technicalities, and Blanco was released from prison and deported to Colombia in 2004. Before her death in 2012, she was last seen[by whom?] in Bogota Airport in 2007, where a photo was taken of her.
Blanco had four sons, three of whom were killed in Colombia after being deported following prison sentences in the U.S. Blanco bore her youngest son, Michael Corleone Blanco by her lover Darío Sepúlveda, who left her in 1983, returning to Colombia, kidnapping Michael when he and Griselda disagreed over who would take custody. Blanco paid to have Sepulveda 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, her last living child, Michael Corleone Blanco, was under house arrest after a May arrest on two felony counts of cocaine trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine.
Blanco was killed by two gunmen on a motorcycle as she walked out of a butcher shop in her hometown, Medellín, on September 3, 2012. The Miami Herald cites El Colombiano newspaper reports that a man performed a drive-by shooting on a motorcycle and shot her twice in the head, executing her in the type of motorcycle assassination she has been credited with inventing.