Griselda Blanco Restrepo, also known as the Cocaine Godmother, is the subject of Lifetime’s newest original movie. Blanco was a drug lord in the Miami-based cocaine trade and it has been estimated that she was responsible for up to 200 murders while transporting cocaine from Columbia to New York, Miami and Southern California.
Blanco’s time as a drug lord has been explored through documentaries and movies before, notably in Cocaine Cowboys, a documentary offering viewers glimpse of her life. Blanco has taken her place as one of the most mythologized drug lords in history. She’s known as the most ruthless drug lord, being responsible for anywhere between 40 and 250 killings, depending on which estimate you believe.
Blanco is the subject of Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story, which airs at 8 p.m. EST on Lifetime. The film stars Academy Award and Tony Award-winning actress Catherine Zeta Jones.
Read on for facts you need to know about the Cocaine Godmother.
1. Blanco Got Into the Cocaine Business in Colombia
Griselda Blanco was born in Cartagena, Colombia, a city on the country’s north cost. She and her mother, Ana Lucia Restrepo, moved to the city of Medellín when Blanco was 3 years old. Medellín is the second-largest city in Colombia.
Around the age of 14, Blanco moved out of her mother’s house in order to get away from the sexual abuse she was experiencing from her step father. She resorted to looting the streets of the city until she met her first husband, Carlos Trujillo. Trujillo was a street hustler that specialized in creating false immigration documents and importing immigrants into the United States. Blanco and Trujillo had 3 children together. After their divorce, Blanco married another hustler, Alberto Bravo. Bravo moved cocaine instead of illegal immigrants, and he was a wealthy man for it.
In the mid 1970s, Blanco and Bravo moved to the United States. The couple settled down in Queens, New York and established a sizable cocaine business there. Their client list included movie stars and major athletes, their organization caught the attention of the NYPD and DEA.
As a result of the launch of the investigation dubbed “Operation Banshee,” Blanco and 30 of her subordinates were indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges in April 1975. Before she could be arrested, Blanco fled to Columbia before returning to Miami in the late 1970s.
2. She is Responsible for anywhere from 40 to 300 Murders
Blanco is credited with creating many of the smuggling techniques and murdering methods that are still used today. She was not only involved in the trade, but she also played a huge role in the Cocaine “Cowboy Wars” that plagued Miami.
According to crimemuseum.org, Colombian officials suspect that Blanco was involved in at least 250 murders in their country and then U.S. detectives believe she is responsible for 40 deaths in America. If someone were to annoy her, cross her or be a member of a rival cartel or smuggling business, then Blanco would have them “bumped off.” At one point, her alleged killings filled the Miami morgue with so many bodies that they had to rent a refrigerated 40-foot trailer from a nearby Burger King to haul them all.
Although Blanco ordered all the hits, the justice system could only pin 3 murders on her. She pled guilty to those 3 murder charges in 1994 while serving time for drug conspiracy.
3. She Earned the Nickname “The Black Widow”
Because she killed any husband she was ever with, Blanco earned the nickname “The Black Widow.” Her first husband, Carlos Trujillo who she met when she was 13 was brutally murdered in the 1970s. The couple had 3 children together before divorcing in the 1960s. Blanco allegedly had Trujillo killed after a business deal went south.
The Godmother’s second husband, Alberto Bravo, with whom she moved to the United States, was her partner in her cocaine business. The marriage was short-lived because Bravo was killed in 1975. The story, with no indication of how much of a myth it is, goes that Blanco confronted Bravo in a nightclub parking lot. The couple argued about missing money and Blanco pulled out a pistol. Bravo pulled out a submachine gun. Their various bodyguards got involved, and Bravo ended up dead along with his 6 bodyguards.
The third husband was killed after he and Blanco had a custody disagreement over her youngest son, Michael Corleone Blanco. The husband, Dario Sepulveda, kidnapped Michael and took him to Colombia. Rather than go through the system to get her son back, Blanco hired a hit man. After the death of Sepulveda, Michael was returned to Blanco in Miami.
4. She Committed Her First Murder at Age 11
The streets of the part of Medellín in which Griselda Blanco lived were not a safe place for children, with the crime and poverty rates being high. By her preteens, Blanco had already been prostituting herself and picking pockets. Before reaching her teenage years, she had also allegedly killed a young boy.
Blanco had a gang of children her age that she started hanging around with at a young age. At one point, the gang reportedly left the ghetto-like hills surrounding Medellín and went into a well-to-do area of flatlands. There they allegedly kidnapped a 10-year-old boy from a wealthy Colombian family. The ragtag group then snuck the boy back to their slums.
Blanco and her friends held the boy hostage while they attempted to ransom the family. When his family would not pay the money that Blanco and her friends were asking for, the group handed Blanco a gun and dared her to shoot the boy between the eyes. He became her first in a long series of murders when she shot him.
5. She Was Killed by Her Own Invention
Cartels and drug lords have been coming up with ways to dispose of the people that get in their way or disagree with them for a long time. Blanco was no different. She came up with the idea of the motorcycle assassin. The method involved 2 men and 2 motorcycles armed with plenty of power. The men would ride up, take aim and shoot before zooming off prior to anyone realizing what had happened.
Colombias national police confirmed Blanco’s death, with press reporting that 2 gunmen on motorcycles pulled up to Blanco as she was walking out of a butcher shop in Medellín. One man hit her in the head with 2 bullets. She was with her pregnant daughter-in-law at the time of her death, but her daughter-in-law was not harmed. The woman told police that Blanco was no longer involved in organized crime.
In the process of making the documentary Cocaine Cowboys, Billy Corben weighed in on the circumstances involving the death of Blanco.
“This is classic live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword,” Corben said. “Or in this case, live-by-the-motorcycle-assassin, die-by-the-motorcycle-assassin.”