Inside the life of the £1bn Cocaine Godmother who boasted a tea set once owned by Queen


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Before El Chapo, there was Griselda Blanco. The famous drug cartel leader was the foremost drug cartel queenpin during the 1970s and 1980s. It is said she ordered death like someone might order Deliveroo. Dubbed the Cocaine Godmother, her story continues to be put on the big screen 10 years after her death.

Blanco was one of the main leaders of the Colombian Medellin drug cartel and was almost unrivalled in the violence she unleashed. 

Some believe there are around 200 deaths accredited to her, but others believe that number could be as high as 2,000. She was indiscriminate in her killings, once ordering the shooting of a boy of just two.

And the way these killings were done was notorious. She is thought to have invented the point-blank motorcycle drive-by.

It wasn’t just blood on her mind either, but money as well. the thrice-married mother of four had a Malibu mansion, a tea set once owned by the Queen, and a gold-plated submachine gun with emeralds. 

Oh, and a bronze sculpture of herself. Such was her wealth that she was earning £60 million a week at her peak.

READ MORE: Catherine Zeta-Jones looks unrecognisable as Griselda Blanco on set

All amassed, Griselda had a £1.5billion fortune and made her allegedly the world’s first female drug boss.

She was married too, three times to men who all met gruesome ends. As with other murders, Griselda was a prime suspect.

These three killings, among the others, were to earn her another nickname, the black widow.

It all came to a head in 1985, however, when she was arrested by the United States DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and charged with importing cocaine. 

Going to trial in New York, she was sentenced to 15 years. Whilst serving this sentence she was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to a further 20 years.

This wasn’t the end of the story, however.

Despite the list of and intensity of her crimes, as well as the fact she pleaded guilty, she didn’t serve her full sentence.

In 2002 she suffered a heart attack in prison and was released two years later in 2004 to live in Medellin.

Fast-forward to 2012 and, having lived under the radar, she was assassinated when she was shot by a motorcyclist.

Discussing the former cartel leader, an officer for the DEA said: “Griselda loved killings. Bodies lined the streets of Miami as a result of her feuds. She gathered around her a group of henchmen known as the Pistoleros.

“Initiation into the group was earned by killing someone and cutting off a body part as proof of the deed. And the killings were personal, too. She not only killed rivals and way­­­ward lovers but also used murder as a means of cancelling debts she didn’t want to pay.”

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In the years since her death, Griselda’s story has captured the attention of story tellers.

As well as Zeta-Jones there are plans for a film starring Jennifer Lopez and a Netflix series with Sofia Vergara, showing her story has lost none of it’s grip.

She also features heavily in other stories of cocaine smuggling of the time, including the Cocaine Cowboys. 



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