Griselda Blanco - The Black Widow

Griselda BlancoGriselda Blanco was born February 15, 1943 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. By her pre teens, 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 the age of 20. She then married her first husband, Carlos Trujillo, and bore three sons: Dixon, Uber, and Osvaldo. 

Blanco was known as ‘La Madrina’, the ‘Black Widow’, the ‘Cocaine Godmother’ and the ‘Queen of Narco-Trafficking’, she was also a drug lord of the Medellín Cartel and a pioneer in the Miami-based cocaine drug trade and underworld during the 1970s and early 1980s. 

She was an important member of the Medellin Cartel but developed a bad rapport with the Cartel when she had the niece of the Ochoa family of the Medellin Cartel, Marta Saldarriaga Ochoa, murdered to avoid paying for a shipment of cocaine delivered by Marta. Her plan was to say she never received the shipment and that the young lady disappeared with it. After the young woman's body was found on a rural south Florida road, it became open season on Griselda and she was subsequently ‘on the run’. 

In the mid-1970s, Blanco and her second husband, Alberto Bravo, emigrated to the US, settling in Queens, New York. They established a sizeable 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. The return of Griselda Blanco to the US from Colombia is what led the start of the mass murders. 

Blanco was involved in much of the gangland drug-related violence known as the Miami Drug War or the Cocaine Cowboy Wars that plagued Miami in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when cocaine supplanted marijuana. 

It was the lawless and corrupt atmosphere, primarily from 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 million per month. Her violent business style brought government scrutiny to South Florida, leading to the demise of her organisation 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 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. However she continued to run her cocaine business whilst 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 in Bogota Airport in May 2007. 

Blanco had four sons, three of whom were killed in Colombia after being deported following prison sentences in the United States. 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. 

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.  

On the night of September 3, 2012, According to Colombian press reports, two gunmen on motorcycles pulled up to Blanco as she walked out of a butcher shop in Medellin, her hometown. One man pumped two bullets into her head, according to El Colombiano newspaper. It was the sort of death many had predicted for her: Blanco has been credited with inventing the idea of the ‘motorcycle assassin’ who rode by victims and sprayed them with bullets. A fitting end?