General facts and figures
- Full name: Griselda Blanco Restrepo
- Net Worth: $2 billion
- Occupation: Colombian drug lord
- Birthday: February 15, 1943
- Birthplace: Cartagena, Colombia
- Birth Sign: Aquarius
- Marital status: Married and divorced several times
Griselda Blanco, also known as the godmother of cocaine, was a notorious drug trafficker and was known to have committed a minimum of 200 murders in both the United States and Colombia. She was one of the main figures in the deadly cocaine wars in Miami in the 1970s and 80s, and it is even believed that she ordered the execution of all three of her husbands, earning her the nickname the Black Widow.
The Early Years
Born on February 15, 1943, Blanco grew up in a very poor family. At the age of 11, she started her life of crime when she helped in the kidnapping of a boy from a very wealthy family. When the boy’s family refused to pay the ransom, she fatally shot him. She was fascinated by the lifestyles of luxury, likely due to the poverty she suffered during her childhood, and her drug business allowed her to eventually enjoy that lifestyle. She allegedly was involved as a pickpocket and prostitute as well.
At an early age, Blanco’s family moved to Medellin, Colombia, which at that time was known as the most dangerous city in the world. There was alleged abuse in the home, mainly from her alcoholic mother and her mother’s many boyfriends, and Blanco moved to Medellin with only her mother. She was a toddler at the time.
Blanco was married a total of three times, bearing three children with her first husband. She was a very young teenager when she married him. Her second husband, Alberto Bravo, was a drug trafficker who brought Blanco into the business. In the early 1970s, they used New York City as their base and began bringing cocaine into the United States. It is estimated that Blanco was responsible for bringing three tons of cocaine into the U.S. every year, for which she made approximately $80 million per month.
Making a Name for Herself
Her nicknames apparently fit her perfectly, because Griselda Blanco was known to be fearless and ruthless. She was indeed, the queen of cocaine and a “queen-pin” known the world over. People were afraid of her, and with good reason. Blanco is even believed to have paved the way for infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. Whether he was her protégé or they were fierce rivals is unclear, but there is little doubt they influenced one another in some way.
With her second husband, Blanco had a huge part in the drug wars of the 1970s, as well as the dangerous drug wars of Miami in the 1980s. During these decades, she made numerous enemies in both the United States and Colombia, and she used a multitude of ways to eliminate those enemies. This includes home invasions, shootings at shopping malls – sometimes in broad daylight – and even drive-by shootings on motorbikes, the latter of which she is said to have invented.
Wherever Blanco went, her reputation preceded her, and some authorities even claimed that she was worse than any man involved in the drug business.
One of the most interesting things about Griselda Blanco is the way she smuggled drugs into the country. She even designed ladies’ lingerie that allowed women to hide cocaine in special compartments in their underwear. She was also the first trafficker to consolidate the drug loads and pool the shipments together for greater efficiency. It is thought that the Colombian drug cartel evolved and grew using these and other methods of trafficking that she came up with.
The Law Eventually Caught up with Her
In the mid-1970s, Blanco, her husband, and roughly 40 other people were busted in a drug sting called Operation Banshee. At the time, it was the biggest cocaine bust ever made and consisted of 150 kilos of cocaine. She and her partners were eventually indicted, but before she could be arrested, she fled to Colombia.
When Blanco returned to the United States, she settled in Miami and was a major player in the drug wars there. Because of these drug wars, Miami was an extremely violent place to be living in the late 1970s, and Blanco played a big role in that violence. The Miami-Dade police department, along with the DEA anti-drug division, created Central Tactical Unit, or CENTAC 26, to combat the growing violence.
It was during this time frame that the Miami drug wars’ gangsters were nicknamed the Cocaine Cowboys, and lawlessness and corruption became commonplace. By the mid-1980s, Blanco and her competitors in Miami were indeed a very violent gang, and she was known to have killed anyone who crossed her, even if their offenses were not serious enough to warrant their murder.
In February of 1985, Griselda Blanco was arrested in her home by DEA agents and sentenced to more than a decade in jail. Undeterred, she ran her business from her jail cell the entire time. At that time, the Miami-Dade County indicted her on three counts of murder, but the case fell apart due to technicalities. In 2004, she was deported to Colombia after she got out of prison.
Her Personal Life
Griselda Blanco had four sons during her three marriages, but three of them were killed in Colombia after they were deported there once they got out of jail in the U.S. Her first husband, Carlos Trujillo, was a small-time criminal who specialized in smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States. Blanco was 13 when she married him, and they had three sons together.
In the 1970s, Blanco and Trujillo split up, and she allegedly had him killed a number of years later. Although she dabbled in crime before she met Trujillo, Blanco’s appetite for more serious crimes became much stronger afterwards, which paved the way for more extreme crimes by the time she met her second husband.
After allegedly having her first husband killed, she killed her second husband herself during an argument about money. She accused Bravo of stealing millions of dollars from her, but the way he died isn’t clear. Some accounts claim that she shot him in the face at the same time that he shot her in the stomach with his Uzi, while other accounts claim her husband was killed by Pablo Escobar. The truth is known only to the players involved.
Her youngest son, by a lover named Dario Sepulveda, was named after the character Michael Corleone from the movie The Godfather. In the early 1980s, Sepulveda and Blanco split up and argued over who would get custody of the boy. Sepulveda ended up kidnapping Michael and fled with him to Colombia. In true fashion, Blanco paid to have Sepulveda killed, and her son was then returned to her so that she could care for him.
Blanco was known to have committed some very heinous acts against numerous people. She made both men and women have sex with her at gunpoint and forced children to become mules. While she was in jail, she even came up with a plot to kidnap John F. Kennedy, Jr., so that she could ransom him for her freedom. Fortunately, nothing ever came of the plot. Furthermore, although the number of people she killed is estimated to be 200 or more, she was only indicted for three of them.
One of the many murders she is accused of is that of a two-year-old boy, who was caught in the crossfire when an unsuccessful attempt was made on the life of his father, who was a former enforcer. She was known to have people killed for any reason at all, including people who simply got on her nerves. In fact, at one point the bodies she was responsible for were so plentiful that the Miami coroner had to rent a 40-foot refrigerated trailer to hold them all.
It is rumored that Blanco was a bisexual, and she was known to have affairs with prostitutes then having them killed later on just because she wanted to. Her parties often turned into orgies, which became infamous after a while. She forced not just children to smuggle drugs into the country, but men and women of all ages, including senior citizens.
She also truly loved her lavish lifestyle, and was said to be worth billions of dollars. She was notorious for the parties she threw, which always included lots of drugs and prostitutes. The good life didn’t elude her and in fact, included in her possessions was a set of pearls owned by the Argentinian first lady Eva Peron, and a tea set that was once owned by England’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Interestingly, Griselda Blanco found religion later in life, claiming to be a born-again Christian. In September of 2012, she was leaving a butcher shop when a person on a motorcycle rode up to her and shot her twice in the head, killing her. This is ironic, because this is the exact type of assassination that she was known to have invented, and she often had her enemies killed this way.
At the time of her death, Blanco had been living quietly in Colombia and was 69 years old. It was said that she had finally left her life of crime, and in fact, she was allegedly carrying a bible in her hand when she was shot.
The world may not have known about Blanco before 2006, when a movie about her life was made. It was titled Cocaine Cowboys, and a sequel to the movie was made two years later. In 2017 a third one titled Cocaine Godmother was made, and it starred Catherine Zeta-Jones as the main character. These movies introduced Blanco to the world and familiarized them with her unusual and tarnished life story.
Nowadays, Blanco’s son, Michael Corleone Blanco, is on a reality television show that details lives of cartel family members. Although he did most of his growing up while his mother was in prison, he has always defended her and claims that despite everything, she was a great mother who cooked his meals for him and always tucked him in at night.
There is no doubt that Griselda Blanco was an interesting and unforgettable character. She was bloodthirsty and relentless, and not only was she responsible for contributing to the notorious drug wars in two countries, but she is also known to be one of the most dangerous women who ever lived.