When it comes to Colombian drug barons, the first name that springs to mind will likely be Pablo Escobar, and rightfully so after he built a drug empire that largely went unrivalled until recent times. Escobar was a larger than life character who amassed so much power and money he eventually ended up literally going to war with his own country. The “king of coke” was a globally feared man and you’d certainly not want to have crossed him back in those days judging by some of the stories floating around.
Before Pablo came on the scene there was another drug boss who was arguably much scarier than Escobar ever was, her name was Griselda Blanco.
Griselda Blanco was a notoriously cruel and scary Columbian drug lord who reigned in the 1970's to early 1980's. Some likened her to being the Devil in disguise, someone you'd never want to meet even if she seemed friendly enough. For starters, given the fact she was a female living in Colombia at a very dangerous time and still managed to build a cocaine drug empire tells you just how dangerous this woman was.
Blanco started out as a talented young pickpocket on the mean streets of Medellín, the same place Pablo Escobar came from. She grew up around violence and was abused by her mother for much of her life until she ran away from home at 14 years old. At just 11 years old, Blanco showed the first signs of just how ruthless she could be when she kidnapped a young boy from a wealthy family.
Blanco decided she would kidnap the boy from a nearby wealthy neighbourhood and demand a ransom from the family. The family refused to pay the ransom so Blanco ruthlessly shot the young boy in the head.neighborhood and demand a ransom from the family. The family refused to pay the ransom so Blanco ruthlessly shot the young boy in the head.
Griselda Blanco spent much of her early teenage years working as a prostitute to make ends meet. That's where she met her first husband Carlos Trujillo, a notorious local hustler and criminal. Blanco learned a lot from working alongside Trujillo which gave her an insight into what it takes to run a criminal empire. Griselda and Trujillo eventually got divorced sometime in the 60's and as a parting gift, she had him executed a few years later for his troubles ...
It was in the early 1970's Griselda got a taste of the cocaine trafficking business when she met her second husband, Alberto Bravo. Again Griselda learned a lot from her new husband who was already a key player in the Colombian cocaine scene. The couple moved to New York and took their business with them making a lot of money thanks to their cocaine connections back home in Colombia. Much of their success was down to Griselda who came up with clever ways to smuggle the cocaine into the United States. One of her favourite ways was to use custom made underwear which had hidden compartments inside to stash the cocaine. Drug mules from Colombia would then bring the drugs into the US wearing the underwear.
It wasn't long before the pair were making millions of dollars and started to draw heat and attention on themselves and their activities. US authorities began to monitor and investigate Griselda and her husband which eventually lead to her being indicted by a federal grand jury. Alberto, on the other hand, managed to slip away back to Colombia before being caught.
Before Griselda was due to face the grand jury she managed to mysteriously escape back to Columbia where she hunted down and shot her husband and his henchman. This marked the moment Griselda took over and became one of the most feared drug lords in Colombia.
In the late 1970s, Griselda moved back to the US and set up shop in Miami. She was single handily responsible for one of the bloodiest and most violent eras in Miami's history which shocked the world. Griselda's arrival quickly turned Miami into the murder capital of America and a place you really didn;t want to be living in at the time. She began what became known as "The Cocaine Wars" and systematically ordered the killings of rival drug bosses and associates. The streets of Miami were soaked with blood and authorities had a hard time dealing with the brutal execution style of business the Colombians brought over to the US. Police officers were either killed, became corrupt or simply quit their jobs it was so bad.
Business was good for Griselda who making an estimated $100 million a month from cocaine trafficking. She rarely left the safety of her Miami mansion and naturally had many enemies out to get revenge on her for her violence towards other gangs and cartels. Six attempts were made on her life while in Miami but she escaped every single hit giving her more notoriety back home and in the US.
Eventually, the law caught up with Griselda and she served 13 years in prison for drug charges that went back to her time in New York. While in prison, Miami authorities were behind the scenes trying to bring a capital murder case against the "God Mother" after capturing Jorge 'Rivi' Ayala, her number one hitman.
The the case soon fell apart when 'Rivi' was involved in a phone sex scandal with a secretary at the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s office. Prosecutors who first sought the death penalty against Griselda, instead allowed her to plead guilty to just three murders even though she was suspected to have been responsible for at least 40 in Miami alone. Griselda was sentenced to 20 years in prison but was later deported back to Columbia in 2004.
Blanco gave up her life of crime when she arrived back in Columbia and lived out her final days in an upmarket neighbourhood. When she was extradited from the US she still had a lot of money and property left over from her cocaine dealings and lived a comfortable life. Finally, things caught up with Griselda when in September 2012 she was gunned down in a motorcycle assassination, a method she had invented during her reign as the "Godmother Of Cocaine."