Netflix’s Griselda: Hollywood loves telling stories about former drug lords turning into heroes who fight against bad guys. You’ve probably seen it in shows like The Sopranos, Narcos, Ozark, Power, and Snowfall. People (including us) are really into these glamorous criminals.
But here’s a twist: Netflix just released a new show called Griselda (you can watch it now!), and it stars Sofía Vergara. This time, the story is about a woman.
Griselda is based on the real-life tale of Griselda Blanco, known as the “godmother of cocaine.” She was a big deal in the drug world, smuggling tons of drugs into the U.S. and creating one of the most successful cartels ever.
Blanco wasn’t just good at business and smuggling; she was also famous for being a ruthless killer. She was connected to many murders and earned the nickname The Black Widow. Even Pablo Escobar, another big-shot in the drug business, was scared of her. There’s a story that he once said, “The only man I was ever afraid of was Griselda Blanco.”
Griselda, the show, digs into Blanco’s wild journey to power and how it all came crashing down. Besides Sofía Vergara, the cast includes great performances by Karol G, Vanessa Ferlito, and Alberto Guerra. If you want to know more about the real story behind Griselda, keep reading.
Who is Griselda Blanco?
Griselda Blanco, a famous drug dealer from the ’70s and ’80s, was born in 1943 in Cartagena, Colombia. She came to the U.S. in the ’70s after escaping an abusive boyfriend involved in the drug trade. In the Netflix show, she lands in Miami, broke and with three kids, and turns to selling drugs for a living, inspired by her past experiences.
The real story of Blanco’s life is quite intricate. Raised by an alcoholic mother in poverty, Blanco allegedly kidnapped a wealthy boy at just 11 for ransom, reportedly killing him when his parents didn’t pay up. At 13, she started working for a pimp named Carlos Trujillo, and by 21, they were married with three children, eventually moving to New York.
Blanco was part of Trujillo’s business, and after their relationship ended, she supposedly had him killed. Later, she married Alberto Bravo, and they began smuggling cocaine into the U.S. using a unique method—hiding drugs in women’s bras and girdles.
In reality, they made millions, but Blanco accused Bravo of embezzlement when she was 32. A confrontation turned deadly, with Blanco surviving a gunshot to the stomach while Bravo did not.
By 1978, Blanco, along with her new husband Dario Sepulveda, had moved to Miami, establishing herself as one of the most successful drug dealers. She ran the cartel solo, earning an estimated $1.5 billion in sales before her arrest in 1985.
How Did Griselda Become So Powerful?
Griselda Blanco’s success in the drug trade can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, she often faced underestimation from her male rivals. Despite her violent reputation, they believed they could outsmart her. What they didn’t realize was that while they were trying to undermine her profits, Blanco was planning their downfall. She allegedly attacked rival cartels and arranged for her enemies to be killed by hitmen.
Her business savvy was another crucial aspect of her success. In 1989, a member of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Steve Georges, noted that Blanco was “the first to use multiple sources of supply so that she could always keep the cocaine pipeline full.” Starting with smuggling drugs in undergarments, Blanco found various ways to transport cocaine. Rumors even suggest she hid drugs on a ship called Gloria, sent by Colombia to celebrate America’s bicentennial in the New York Harbor.
Additionally, Blanco played a role in popularizing cocaine in the United States. Before her involvement in the drug trade, marijuana was more popular. Upon moving to Miami, she capitalized on the city’s transformation into a vacation destination and party hub. Blanco quickly took control of the market, introducing a more potent and addictive drug than what people were accustomed to.
How Was Griselda Blanco Caught?
Arresting Griselda Blanco proved to be a challenging task. Despite her involvement in serious crimes, finding witnesses willing to testify against her was difficult, and she skillfully avoided capture by frequently moving around. In 1977, when Blanco was in Colombia, Charles Cecil, a special agent at the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), was assigned to track her down. Upon confirming she had left the country, Cecil patiently awaited her return to the United States.
Finally, in 1985, Blanco was apprehended at her residence in Irvine, California. She was convicted on one count of conspiracy related to the manufacture, importation, and distribution of cocaine, resulting in a 15-year prison sentence.
In 1994, Blanco faced additional charges for the death of Johnny Castro, a young boy mistakenly killed in 1982 during a hit ordered by Blanco. In 1998, she pleaded guilty to three second-degree murder charges, leading to a judge reducing her prison sentence by six years.
How Did Griselda Blanco Die?
Griselda Blanco met a tragic end after her release from prison. Having retired from the cocaine business in 2004, she was deported to Colombia, but her past actions had left her with numerous enemies. In 2012, Blanco was fatally shot by a gunman as she was leaving a butcher shop in Medellín. The assailant orchestrated the attack as a drive-by shooting, taking her life while riding a motorcycle—ironically, the same method Blanco’s own hitmen were said to have employed during the peak of her criminal career.
What Happened to Griselda’s Children?
Griselda Blanco had four sons: Osvaldo, Uber, Dixon Trujillo (from her first marriage to Carlos Trujillo), and Michael Corleone Blanco, named after The Godfather character, with her ex-husband Dario Sepulveda. According to the Miami New Times, Michael’s father and older brothers were killed while Blanco was in jail. There’s speculation that Blanco may have ordered a hit on Sepulveda because he left Colombia with Michael and another woman, although this hasn’t been confirmed. During his mother’s imprisonment, Michael reportedly spent most of his time with legal guardians and relatives.
Netflix adapted Blanco’s life story into a series, and Michael is now suing the streaming service and Sofía Vergara, who stars in the show. He claims that Netflix did not consult his past media interviews while creating Griselda and accused the writers of relying on anecdotes instead of facts. In an interview with Daily Mail, Michael expressed that Netflix’s actions were a “slap in the face” and believed they wouldn’t have proceeded that way if his mother were alive.
While talking to Daily Mail, Michael revealed that Netflix and Vergara initially contacted him, but they had already decided to move forward without his involvement. He said, “They extended an invitation for us to sit with them [just] to tell us there was no room on the project.” According to him, Sofia’s team and the Netflix creators were disrespectful and produced the Griselda project on their own for commercial gain, without key details from the Blanco family.
Michael has recently written a book about Griselda Blanco’s life, titled “My Mother, The Godmother,” available for pre-order. He emphasized the importance of telling his family’s life story with humanity rather than portraying them as villains. “Somebody from the family has to tell the story correctly,” he stated, adding, “I just feel that my family’s life story should be humanized, not villainized.”
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