Idiots Guide: Worst People on Earth # 4: Griselda Blanco ‘La Madrina’ (The Godmother)

Historically, the sorted, often bizarre, definitely dangerous world of international narcotics trafficking has been a male dominated business. A business in which women are typically regarded, and often treated similar to the illicit commodities of the trade. Which makes the story of Griselda Blanco all the more remarkable. In a business known for it’s abject violence, rarely if ever, has the world seen a woman outclass her male peers in terms of sheer ruthlessness. In many ways Griselda Blanco was a ‘narco-terrorist’. Her life was a macabre collage of violence, murder and mayhem. By the time her number was called to leave this mortal coil we call life, she ruled a cocaine empire that was importing approximately 3,400 pounds of cocaine every month. As a hyper violent personality, she had amassed somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 (+) murders in her gym bag. An astonishing legacy of violence that earned her more than a few nicknames, among them ‘the Queen of Narco-Trafficking’,  ‘La Madrina’, ‘the Cocaine Godmother’, and ‘the Black Widow’. The ‘Black Widow’ moniker is as clad as iron can get. None of her husbands lived a full life, or died a natural death. Starting with her first husband Carlos Trujillo, whom she had murdered sometime after their circa 1960’s divorce. She shot her second husband Alberto Bravo six times in a Bogota, Columbia club parking lot. Before their breakup and his subsequent murder (A running theme), she and Bravo had managed to build a fledgling multi-million dollar cocaine empire in Queens, New York in the mid to late 1970’s. His death coincided with her birth as a bonafide leader of a cocaine empire. Her third ‘unofficial’ husband Darío Sepúlveda fared no better than the first two men, as she had him murdered in 1983 after he left her and kidnapped her son Michael, taking him to Columbia. Michael came back to the states, after Dario became dead.

Griselda young kid

It wouldn’t be out of bounds to claim that Griselda was a criminal right out of her mother’s womb. Born in Cartagena, Colombia on February 15, 1943, Blanco at the presumably tender age of eleven (11), allegedly kidnapped a small boy of a wealthy family from the flatland neighborhood of Columbia, and demanded a substantial ransom. When the boy’s parents failed to meet the ransom demands, she put a gun to the young boy’s forehead and executed him on the spot. Did I mention she was 11 years old at the time? Statistics say that when you commit your first murder before the age of 12, it’s pretty much all downhill from there. By the time Griselda was 13 years old, she was a well known prostitute in slums of Medellin. This is how she met her first husband, the grifter, hustler, and document counterfeiter, Carlos Trujillo. They married and he helped her produce fabricated immigration documents for their entrance into the United States in the late 1950’s. They  had three children together, all of whom were eventually murdered at separate times back in Columbia. You can’t make this stuff up.

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By the 1970’s Griselda and her second husband Alberto Bravo set up shop in Queens, New York and built a prosperous mini cocaine empire using their various cocaine connections back in Colombia, which was at the time, and still is today, the epicenter of the world’s cocaine production. Griselda and Bravo were making money in the millions before the feds finally caught up with them. In April of 1975, Blanco, along with 30 other co-conspirators caught a nice federal grand jury indictment on drug conspiracy charges. The largest such drug indictment in history, at the time. However, Bravo managed to escaped back to Columbia, without her. Griselda also managed to escape before she could be prosecuted. Once back in Columbia, she tracked down Bravo in Bogota, then murdered him in cold blood, shooting him six times, including once point blank in the head. So no more Bravo. Griselda eventually made her way back to the United States, namely the Miami region of South Florida, where she embarked on a cocaine trafficking career whose comet dust trail was drenched in blood. It was the late 1970’s moving into the 1980’s and Griselda Blanco’s brand of abject violence helped to firmly establish her as the ‘The Godmother’. She would routinely order the murders of business rivals, romantic rivals, anyone who owed her money, anyone she owed money to and refused to pay, and anyone who she plain didn’t like. Worse still, she had a policy of intentional collateral damage, whereas anyone who happened to have the misfortune of being in the vicinity of an intended target, was also killed, just because. Her organization was a major player in the so-called ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ era of south Florida whose hyper violence plagued the region, and made national headlines for the better part of 7 years.

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Griselda’s propensity for violence was the kind of remarkable that transcended gender, and even humanity itself. The term ‘bloodthirsty’ doesn’t quite fully encapsulate her personality. Her Medellín Cartel backed organization distributed cocaine from Colombia to Miami, up through New York, then on to Southern California. Besides the deleterious effects that her drugs caused American society, it was the terror she unleashed on the streets of Miami, New York, and Columbia that is truly noteworthy. The irony of this woman who looked more like a latin grandmother than ruthless drug lord, is astounding. The fact that almost everyone involved in her life, children included met with a premature, violent end, is the stuff of horrific legend.

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In lock step with the eventual fate of all evil members of the human race, her reign of terror eventually ran out. On February 20, 1985, Griselda Blanco was arrested by the DEA at her Orange County, California home/hideout. She was apprehended sitting in bed reading the bible, and trying to feign an inability to speak english. It clearly didn’t work. Griselda Blanco would eventually serve 13 years in federal prison, then extradited back to Florida to face murder charges. However, due to a mishandled prosecution, she was handed a  reduced sentence. Rumor has it that she continued to run her cocaine empire from prison.  After serving her time, in 2004 Blanco was released from prison and was immediately deported back to Colombia. Eight years later, on the night of September 3, 2012, Griselda Blanco was leaving a butcher shop in Medellín, Colombia when she was ambushed by two motorcyclist assassins in a ‘drive by’ shooting. She was struck by two bullets in the head, and died on the sidewalk in a lonely pool of blood. Thus bookending a violent life that was filled with nothing but violence.