On Cartel Crew, the sons and daughters of cartel members give viewers a glimpse into their personal lives as they navigate adulthood and the effects of their family legacies while trying to create new lives and build success from the ground up. The docuseries follows their journeys as they set out to live legit lives and make names for themselves outside of the drug scene.
The leader of this “crew” is Michael Corleone Blanco, the youngest son of the “Cocaine Godmother” Griselda Blanco. Michael left the drug life after 33 years following his mother’s assassination, but on tonight’s episode he visits her grave for the first time and has a meltdown. According to the episode’s official description, “The cast travels to Colombia where Kat tries to broker peace between Nicole and Dayana. Meanwhile, a new feud emerges between Loz and Stephanie. Michael sees his mother’s grave for the first time and comes undone.”
Blano’s mother Griselda was also known as La Madrina, the Black Widow, the Queen of Narco-Trafficking, and the Cocaine Godmother. She was a Colombian drug lord who amassed a vast cocaine empire and was a central figure in the violent drug wars in Miami in the ’70s and ’80s. She thrived in an empire typically dominated by man, building herself a $2 million empire before she was gunned down in Medellin by an assassin on a motorcycle in September 2012. She was 69-year-old at the time.
She was known for living a flamboyant lifestyle—after all, she named Michael after a certain Corleone from The Godfather movies. Three of her husbands also died in drug-related violence. But it was her temper and penchant for unyielding violence that drew the attention of law enforcement and the public. Although she was only ever convicted of three murders, detectives estimated that she was behind about 40 homicides.
Another estimate alleges that she was responsible for up to 200 murders while transporting cocaine from Colombia to New York, Miami, and Southern California…including the death of a 2-year-old boy from Miami. According to her former hitman Jorge Ayala, she didn’t mean to have the toddler killed, she was targeting the boys’ father for disrespecting her son. Ayala told police: “At first, she was real mad ’cause we missed the father. But when she heard we had gotten the son by accident, she said she was glad, that they were even.”
When Griselda was in prison, Michael took over the family business at the young age of 12 years old. Griselda had four children, but all of Michael’s older brothers were incarcerated at the same time. Michael carried on the business for decades, occasionally serving time himself, before his mother’s untimely death.
“I was a child doing big boy things…bribing corrections officers, telling my mom’s henchmen what to do. When my mother was assassinated, I realized I had to change my life,” he told VH1.
After leaving the drug scene, Michael Corleone Blanco launched his own brand in 2009 called Pure Blanco to prove he could lead a legal business and life. “I had a dream and it took God to make it so,” Blanco told TMZ. The brand offers men’s and women’s clothing along with accessories like hats, totes, and drinkware, all celebrating the life and legacy of his mother Giselda.