Born in Colombia on February 15, 1943, Griselda Blanco, also known as "The Godmother," is suspected of committing more than 200 murders while transporting cocaine from Colombia to New York, Miami and Southern California. On the run from the law for more than 10 years, Blanco was captured in 1985 in Irvine, California. Her trial ended in scandal, and she was eventually deported back to Colombia. On September 3, 2012, at age 69, Blanco was murdered in her hometown of Medellin, Colombia. According to reports, two gunmen on motorcycles shot Blanco after she exited a butcher shop.
Life in the Medellin Cartel
Griselda Blanco Restrepo was born in Cartagena, Colombia on February 15, 1943. Raised by an abusive mother, Blanco turned to a life of crime and prostitution at a young age. Not long after, she became involved with Colombia's infamous Medellin Cartel, helping to push Colombian cocaine throughout the United States, specifically to New York, Miami and Southern California. Members of the cartel were able to smuggle large quantities of cocaine into the United States using special undergarments that Blanco had presumably designed and manufactured.
In the mid-1970s, Blanco left Colombia for New York. By this time, the infamous drug trafficker, now in her early 30s, was running a massive narcotics ring. But U.S. detectives were soon hot on Blanco's trail: After authorities intercepted a shipment of 150 kilos cocaine in 1975—the biggest cocaine case in history at the time—Blanco and more than 30 of her partners were indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges. The investigation was dubbed "Operation Banshee," and became known to law enforcement officers nationwide. Fearing capture, Blanco fled the country, returning to Colombia. It wasn't long before she returned, this time settling in Miami.
Throughout her time in the United States, Blanco's continued involvement in the Colombian drug trade led to her participation in several other crimes, including driveby shootings and other murders motivated by drugs, money and power. By the late 1970s, detectives had linked her to dozens of murders. Possibly most notably, she was named a suspect in a drug-rival shooting that took place inside of a Miami liquor store. Blanco would manage to escape authorities, however, until nearly a decade later.
In the 1980s, Blanco was livingly comfortably in a newly purchased home in Miami. By this time, the infamous drug trafficker had become a millionaire, and had taken on various nicknames, including "The Godmother," "Queen of Cocaine" and "Black Widow."
Blanco's luck finally ran out in 1985, when she was captured by detectives in Irvine, California.
Trial and Later Years
Blanco's trial took place in New York, and ended with a conviction: She was found guilty of a drug conspiracy charge but escaped murder charges, despite being accused of several Florida slayings. She received the maximum sentence, according to drug laws at the time: 15 years.
In 1994, Blanco, now a federal prison inmate, was transported back to Miami on three murder charges (She had been named a suspect, however, in more than 200 murders). In a strange turn of events, however, the case was thrown out: The star witness in the case, a hitman named Jorge "Rivi" Ayala who had worked for Blanco, had become romantically involved with a secretary in the Florida State Attorney's Office, causing prosecutors to worry about the credibility of Ayala's testimony on the stand. Some speculated that Ayala botched the case on purpose, fearing that he could be killed by members of Blanco's cartel if he testified.
Blanco ended up pleading guilty to the three murder charges, and following a deal with prosecutors, she received a 10-year sentence. In June 2004, she was released from prison and deported back to Colombia.
On September 3, 2012, at age 69, Blanco was murdered in her hometown of Medellin, Colombia. According to reports, two gunmen on motorcycles shot Blanco after she exited a butcher shop.