Drug queenpin Griselda Blanco ruled over Miami’s cocaine operations with a level of brutality that has since become infamous, but she was only arrested once amid her lengthy criminal history. After her life and drug empire was fictionalized in the Netflix drama, Griselda, viewers are wondering how long she went to jail, the charges she faced and how long she was behind bars.

What Crimes Did Griselda Blanco Commit?

Known as the “Godmother of Cocaine,” Griselda’s lengthy list of crimes is incomplete at best, but what is known is that she started her life of crime at a young age as a pickpocketer and sex worker. By the 1960s, she moved to New York with second husband Albert Bravo, a coke smuggler, and became enveloped in the life of drug trafficking and distribution. At one point, she was said to have employed 1,500 dealers with the help of Pablo Escobar.

Griselda fled to Colombia in 1975 to avoid authorities, growing her empire as she did so. After killing Bravo, Griselda married murderer ​​Dario Sepulveda and later moved to Miami, where she took control of the city’s cocaine underworld. Her list of crimes and oddities grew, as did her coined style of killing – the drive-by motorcycle assassination.

DEA arresting agent Robert Palombo told The Miami Herald of Griselda’s crimes and criminal style, “She mesmerized people. She could woo you with her acumen and make you a loyal follower. There was also fear: Anybody working for her also knew she wouldn’t ask anyone to do what she wouldn’t do herself.”

How Many Times Was Griselda Blanco Arrested?

Despite decades of drug-related violent crimes, Griselda was only arrested once. Agent Palombo had been tracking her movements for a decade when he finally arrested her in 1985 on drug charges.

“Palombo went up to her and gave her a big fat kiss,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Schlessinger – who prosecuted Griselda and was present for her arrest – later told The Miami Herald of the drug lord’s stand off with authorities. “He said, ‘Griselda! I’m so glad to see you!’ That was the truth.”

Griselda’s arrest came as a shock to her, Schlessinger continued, despite her ruling of the Miami cocaine business for years. She not only controlled the sale and distribution of cocaine in the region and worked alongside the Medellín Cartel, but she was behind an estimated 200 murders.

“It would be in the dozens,” Schlessinger said of the killings Griselda committed personally. “We have no idea here how many murders she authorized in Colombia. She was a complete sociopath. She murdered people at the drop of a hat. She would kill anybody who displeased her, because of a debt, because they screwed up a shipment, or she didn’t like the way they looked at her.”

How Long Did Griselda Blanco Go to Jail?

After she was arrested on drug charges in 1985, Griselda was found guilty of conspiring to manufacture, import and distribute cocaine. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison before being handed over to authorities in Florida. There, she faced charges related to three murders – including the killing of a 2-year-old boy.

Griselda pleaded guilty to the less aggressive charges of three counts of second degree murder, receiving an additional 20 years behind bars. However, the case built against her by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office fell apart and allowed her to strike a plea deal. As it happened, her former accomplice Jorge Ayala – who was set to testify against her as the prosecution’s key witness – engaged in phone sex with secretaries in the attorney’s office, significantly impacting his credibility and blowing the investigation into the wind.

When Was Griselda Blanco Released From Jail?

The “Godmother of Cocaine” was released from jail in 2004 and deported to Colombia. She lived the rest of her life keeping a relatively low profile, until she was shot twice in the head – motorcycle-assassin style – by two shooters in 2012.

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