'Queen of Cocaine' Griselda Blanco shot down in Colombia

Sep 4, 2012

A 'bloody cinematic ending' for the infamous drug trafficker and killer who mentored Pablo Escobar

A NOTORIOUS Colombian drug trafficker known as the 'Queen of Cocaine' was shot dead by two assassins riding motorbikes as she was leaving a butcher shop in Medellin on Monday.

The Miami New Times calls it a "bloody cinematic ending” for 69-year-old Griselda Blanco, a retired cocaine trafficker who was “insatiably fond of the gangster epic The Godfather".

Blanco was also known as 'La Madrina', Spanish for 'Godmother', and even named her youngest son Michael Corleone after the main character in the film trilogy. She had a reputation for ruthlessness and is suspected of ordering the killing of dozens of rivals to get to the top of the drug smuggling business in the 1970s and 1980s.

Born in the impoverished shanty-towns surrounding Cartagena in 1943, she began her criminal career as a pickpocket and eventually commanded a billion-dollar criminal empire that reportedly shipped 3,400 pounds of cocaine per month by boat and plane. She established many of the smuggling routes now used by the Medellin cartel and solidified her place in Colombian cartel lore as the mentor to Pablo Escobar. The Queen of Cocaine is said to have revolutionised smuggling by developing her own line of underwear with secret compartments for drugs.

In 1985, she was sentenced to 20 years in an American jail for drug trafficking and three murders, including that of a two-year-old boy in Miami in 1982. However, police believe she was responsible for at least 40 murders and others put the number closer to 250. She earned another nickname, 'The Black Widow', for allegedly having three of her husbands killed and three of Blanco's four sons were murdered while she was in prison.

On her return to Colombia in 2004, she is said to have cut her ties to organised crime. She subsequently became a hip-hop culture icon thanks to the documentary Cocaine Cowboys and its sequel Hustlin With the Godmother.

The Miami New Times suggests her murderer may have wanted to send an "ironic final message" since Blanco was also the reputed originator of motorcycle assassinations.

Cocaine Cowboys filmmaker Billy Corben says in the Sacramento Bee: "This is classic live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-die-sword. Or in this case, live-by-the-motorcycle-assassin, die-by-the-motorcycle assassin."

Nelson Andreu, a former Miami homicide detective who previously investigated Blanco, told the Miami Herald that it was “surprising to all of us that she had not been killed sooner” because she made a lot of enemies.

"When you kill so many and hurt so many people like she did, it's only a matter of time before they find you and try to even the score."

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