- Netflix’s latest hit series Griselda, starring Sofia Vergara that premiered on January 25 tells the story of Griselda Blanco, also known as “Cocaine Godmother” or “The Black Widow”. Blanco was a Colombian drug lord, active in the cocaine drug trade during the 1970s right up until the new millennium. Griselda was a prominent name in the business, she was allegedly part of the famous Medellín Carte, which Pablo Escobar ran. Griselda puts Blanco in the spotlight and showcases her life in six episodes.
Griselda Blanco Restrepo was born in 1943 in the city of Cartagena in Colombia. She became exposed to crime at a very early age, after moving from her birthplace to Medellín at the age of three with her mother, the city used to be known as one of the most dangerous in the world. Throughout her teen years, Blanco turned to a life of crime as a means to escape the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, by the age of 19, she had run away from home. There have been claims that as a teenager, she turned to prostitution, and even was involved in kidnapping and murder schemes.
By the time she was 21, Griselda was married to her first husband, Carlos Trujillo, with three sons: Dixon, Uber and Osvaldo. The couple had started up their own marijuana dealing business to provide for their family. After they separated, they remained business partners until Blanco had her ex-husband murdered after a business dispute.
Shortly after, Griselda met her second husband, Alberto Bravo, a cocaine dealer, and using fake names and papers, the two illegally moved to Queens, New York with her three kids and set up a successful smuggling operation. However, the couple and 30 of their apprentices were indicted in 1975 on federal drug conspiracy charges; they fled back to Colombia to avoid the charges. Shortly after this, Blanco and Bravo had a big disagreement which led to Blanco shooting and killing him. This is when “The Black Widow” nickname came into play.
After killing Alberto Bravo, Griselda moved back to the United States with her sons, but this time to Miami, Florida. During this time, it was the late seventies, during the Miami drug war. Blanco started up her drug operation. In 1978, she married her third husband, Darío Sepúlveda, and her youngest son, named after a character in The Godfather, Michael Corleone Blanco, was born. Their marriage didn’t last long however, when Supúlveda left Griselda in the early 1980s, he also kidnapped Michael and moved back to Colombia. In order for Blanco to get Michael back, she paid to have her ex-husband executed.
By this point in her life, Griselda Blanco was a key figure in the cocaine trade, reportedly making around $80 million per month through her distribution system. The success was short-lived, as she was arrested in 1985 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in her own home and charged with conspiracy to manufacture, import and distribute cocaine.
The case went to trial in New York City and Griselda was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Her drug operation was still being run, despite her being in prison. However, whilst serving her sentence, she was charged with three counts of first-degree murder by the state of Florida, after Jorge Ayala, Blanco’s hitman, informed the police of her actions.
Due to a phone sex scandal involving Ayala and two secretaries from the state attorney’s office, the case collapsed, but in 1998 she pleaded guilty to three counts of murder in the second degree and was sentenced to over 20 years.
During her prison sentence, all three of Griselda’s eldest sons were murdered by her rivals, with only Michael surviving. In 2002, she suffered a heart attack as a result of her lifelong smoking. Two years later she was released from prison by being granted compassionate release due to her health issues. Upon her release, she was deported back to Medellín and retired.
Griselda Blanco was shot and killed on September 3, 2012, at the age of 69 outside of a butcher shop in Cardiso by an assassin on a motorcycle. Today, only her youngest son, Michael survives Blanco. Upon the release of Netflix’s Griselda, Michael and his wife are currently suing both Netflix and actress Sofia Vergara for allegedly using unauthorised content in the mini-series. The show has scored 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, conjuring up over 20 million views in its first week, and became the number one TV show in 89 countries.
Edited by Chloe Mansola
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