The underworld is full of shameless boast, but when Griselda Blanco claimed that she was "the baddest woman who ever took a breath", she couldn't be accused of exaggerating.
She was only eleven when she killed her first victim, another child, and she never looked back and earned a terrible reputation as the most bloodthirsty drug lord – male or female – in history.
The Colombian “Queenpin” emerged from slum poverty to build an empire that stretched from her country's cocaine capital Medellin to Miami and New York. The matronly mother of four children was associated with around 250 murders.
Her favorite items included a bone china tea set that once belonged to the Queen and an overall less royal, gold-plated, emerald-studded submachine gun.
Griselda Blanco was a 5-foot Colombian cocaine queen who has been linked to 250 murders, ranging from Medellin to Miami and New York
The shameful, eye-catching, and extremely brutal billionaire, who was called "Godmother of Cocaine" and "Black Widow" (she killed her three husbands), was murdered without force – at least if she didn't have bisexual orgies and men and women forced gunfire and inspiration for the successful Miami Vice TV series.
Now, eight years after her enemies shot her down while shopping, her story is about to be turned into a new feature film with Jennifer Lopez.
The actress and singer, who may also have directed The Godmother and recently starred in a New York stripper who robbed her wealthy Wall Street customers at Hustlers, says she is "forever intrigued" by the story of the "notorious, ambitious, resentful, deterrent "Blanco.
Hustlers, like a true story, was hailed as a garish tribute to women's empowerment, and Blanco, barely 5 feet tall, was also a woman in the world of a man.
Griselda was a sociopathic monster who, according to one of her prosecutors, killed people "in an instant".
Without a comprehensive description of the story, however, it would be difficult to imagine that viewers would want to choose the Black Widow. Because Griselda asserted itself at the top with ruthless efficiency and devilish ingenuity.
She was the first to put killers on the backs of motorcycles so they could spray bullets and easily flee their victims – a tactic copied by criminals around the world.
She was also the first to recognize that women made better drug users than men because the police were less likely to stop them and made their own range of lingerie with multiple pockets so women could hide large amounts of cocaine while smuggling.
As a sociopathic monster who, according to one of her prosecutors, had people murdered "in the blink of an eye", she ordered her group of hired assassins, a particularly malicious gang called Los Pistoleros, to never kill anyone without using a body part like a finger or an ear as a trophy.
"She would kill anyone who displeased her – because of guilt, because she screwed up a show, or because she didn't like the way they looked at it," said US attorney Stephen Schlessinger.
Admittedly, she had a difficult start in life. Born in a Colombian shanty town in 1943, she was raised in a slum in Medellin by her mother, an alcoholic prostitute who was brutally beaten.
The country was hit by a brutal civil war, and Blanco and other children talked about digging holes to bury the dead.
Jennifer Lopez will play Griselda in an upcoming Hollywood biopic The Godmother and may also direct the feature film
She became a pickpocket and murderer when she was only 11 when she helped kidnap a ten-year-old boy from a wealthy family.
When they failed to pay the ransom, she shot him.
A year later she became a prostitute and soon met her first husband, a little forger named Carlos Trujillo. They had three sons, but were divorced later. The Black Widow had him murdered for a business dispute.
Her second husband, Alberto Bravo, was a cocaine dealer and in the late 1960s they (illegally) moved to Queens, New York, where they started a smuggling business under the guise of Bravo's clothing import company.
The company created the special range of drug mule lingerie that it had developed – corsets, bras, and panties with dozens of pockets in which a woman could carry up to 7 pounds of cocaine in a single corset.
Thanks to their links to Colombia, one of the world's most important sources of cocaine, they were able to undercut the Italian mafia. They soon became multimillionaires when they flew huge shipments to the United States on their own aircraft and employed around 1,500 dealers to sell them.
Blanco reveled in her new life as a drug lord. She made Hollywood gangster films, especially The Godfather, and inspired her to call herself The Godmother and to name her fourth child Michael Corleone after the gangster of Al Pacino.
Back then, cocaine was rare and expensive – mostly reserved for the rich, including movie stars and athletes. These “privileged” consumers also included Griselda herself, who was enthusiastic about “Basuco”, an addictive raw form of smokable cocaine.
It made her so paranoid that she kept a private jet of fuel and crew on standby in case she had to escape quickly. In 1975, when she got a hint of it, US investigators were actually preparing to arrest her.
The 32-year-old black widow called for another partner while fleeing to Colombia. She suspected Alberto Bravo cheated on her and stole millions from her business and called him for a meeting in a parking lot.
She pulled out a pistol that was stuck in her ostrich skin boots and shot him – but not before he fired a blast from his Uzi submachine gun in the stomach.
She survived and in one version of the story (and there are always several at Griselda) she grabbed his weapon and mowed down his six bodyguards.
Griselda married in 1978 the third husband Dario Sepulveda, a murderer with whom she had her youngest child, Michael Corleone Blanco. Pictured: Griselda with her son Michael Blanco
In 1978 she married the third husband Dario Sepulveda, a murderer with whom she had her youngest child, Michael Corleone Blanco. They moved to Miami – Griselda escaped the discovery because her face had been so devastated by cocaine that it could not be recognized on old photos.
Miami was full of drug money, but was in the grip of a malicious drug war in which Griselda – played by Catherine Zeta-Jones in a 2018 TV movie, Cocaine Godmother – triumphed thanks to her unmatched ability to use violence.
The police, armed only with revolvers, faced Griselda's thugs armed with an arsenal of assault rifles and machine guns, and had no hesitation in spraying bullets everywhere.
In her first outrage in 1979, she had her killers drive an armored, weapon-filled van labeled "Happy Time Complete Party Supply" on the sides to a local mall, where they indiscriminately opened fire in a shop with machine guns. Two rival gangsters were killed and four innocent onlookers injured.
The police called the killers who spray bullets "Cocaine Cowboys".
Miami quickly became the most violent city in the United States. So many people died that the coroner's office at Burger King had to rent a refrigerated truck so that they had enough space for all the bodies.
Griselda's empire earned $ 80 million a month and smuggled 400 kg of cocaine for her old friend Pablo Escobar's Medellin cartel at its peak in the 1980s
Griselda committed some of the murders herself and called herself "La Compasiva" (The Compassionate One) after accepting a victim's desperate requests not to slice him with a machete but to shoot him instead.
However, "compassion" could not have been a less appropriate nickname for a sadistic, murderous maniac who could murder virtually anyone on a whim.
Those unlucky enough to have a target on the arrival of their armed men were killed, including children aged four.
She was also wildly jealous and had eight strippers murdered when she suspected they were sleeping with her husband. When one of her boys was dumped by a friend, she had the girl's father killed.
None of that distracted her from building an empire that, at its peak in the 1980s, earned $ 80 million a month smuggling 3,400 pounds of cocaine for the Medellin cartel from Griselda's old friend Pablo Escobar. And she enjoyed it.
The luxury-loving Griselda was extravagant and complacent, had a fleet of expensive cars, and wore jewelry that once belonged to the Argentine actress and first lady Eva Peron.
When she was released from prison in 2004, two of her sons were killed by rivals in Colombia, and Griselda was deported there as an illegal US immigrant. Pictured: Griselda with her son Michael
She was openly bisexual and organized lesbian and bisexual orgies with cocaine in a mirror room in her opulent mansion in Miami, where she lived with a German shepherd named Hitler.
When visiting cocaine criminals, she rubbed a bronze bust of her head at the entrance to the villa to be lucky.
In 1983 Sepulveda left her, returned to Colombia and kidnapped her son Michael. Needless to say, husband No. 3 was murdered and the armed men shot him in his car when Michael was sitting next to him.
A year later, in 1984, she fled to California with a $ 4 million bounty, where she settled in a modest suburban bungalow.
Even though she was a disguise expert, federal agents finally found her there and arrested her in 1985 when she was sitting in bed reading a Bible. Her family insisted that she would become a born-again Christian.
She was tried on just three murders and spent more than a decade behind bars, still managing to run her business through her children.
When she was released in 2004, two of her sons were killed by rivals in Colombia, and Griselda was deported there as an illegal US immigrant.
Officials expected her enemies to kill her within a few days, but surprisingly she survived eight years and lived in a quiet suburb of Medellin without a bodyguard.
In September 2012, she left a local butcher's shop when a middle-aged man got off a motorcycle and shot her in the head twice before walking calmly.
When she was dying, her niece put a Bible in her hands.
Some have tried to apologize for Blanco (and maybe Jennifer Lopez too) by saying that she was a victim of her circumstances or that she tried to prove herself in Colombia's notoriously macho underworld. And Hollywood has a bad track record of glorifying violent criminals.
But if someone doesn't deserve such a makeover, it's the Black Widow.
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