Drug queenpin Griselda Blanco dominated Miami, Florida, in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to her cocaine empire, but her nefarious dealings ultimately resulted in her assassination. Known as the “Godmother of Cocaine,” Griselda spent decades operating a large-scale smuggling network and working alongside the Medellin cartel, establishing herself as a fearsome drug lord. Behind dozens of murders, Griselda – who is brought to life by Sofía Vergara in Netflix’s Griselda – coined a specific style of killing, but it was ultimately used by two assailants to end her life.
Who Assassinated Griselda Blanco?
Though the identities of the assailants are unknown to this day despite police efforts, Griselda was killed by two armed motorcycle riders in September 2012.
How Did Griselda Blanco Die?
The drug lord was walking out of a butcher shop in her hometown of Medellin, Colombia, when the armed gunmen shot her in the head twice from their motorcycle. The killing was reflective of the drive-by style Griselda coined herself while running her drug empire, with Drug Trafficking in the Americas author Bruce Bagley telling The Guardian at the time, “It’s some kind of poetic justice that she met an end that she delivered to so many others.”
“Here is a woman who made a lot of enemies on her rise and was responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of people,” he continued. “She might have retired to Colombia and wasn’t anything like the kind of player she was in her early days, but she had lingering enemies almost everywhere you look. What goes around comes around.”
Filmmaker Billy Corben – who documented Griselda’s life as part of the Cocaine Cowboys documentary – further told The Miami Herald of her death, “This is classic live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword. Or in this case, live-by-the-motorcycle-assassin, die-by-the-motorcycle assassin.”
What Was Griselda Blanco Guilty Of?
While operating her drug empire, Griselda was said to be personally responsible for an alarming number of brutal murders, but she was found guilty of just three killings. She was convicted of arranging the murders of two Miami drug dealers who did not pay for delivery, as well as the assassination of an organization enforcer’s 2-year-old son.
Of the little boy’s killing, her lieutenant, Jorge Ayala, told law enforcement at the time, “At first she was real mad because we missed the father, but when she heard we had gotten the son by accident, she said she was glad, that they were even.”
It is suspected that Griselda killed as many as 200 people throughout her cocaine empire’s spree in Miami.
Griselda was indicted by the United States District Court for New York’s southern district in 1985 on cocaine manufacturing and distribution charges. She was sentenced to 15 years behind bars, while the state of Florida set to build a case against her for murder.
Due to a conflict of interest in the case positioned against her by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, Griselda was able to cut a deal and pleaded guilty to second degree murder in 1998. Jorge was set to be a key witness in the state’s case, but after being caught having phone sex with secretaries in the Miami-Dade prosecutor’s office, his credibility – and therefore the case’s – crumbled.
Griselda was released from prison in 2004 and deported to Colombia, where she lived for eight years before being murdered. Her life and crimes have since been fictionally told in Netflix’s Griselda, released in early 2024, of which author Bruce Bagley seemingly predicted.
“She was a pioneer in the sense that she helped to forge and carve out the drugs trade in south Florida and used bloody tactics to do so,” Bruce told The Guardian shortly after her death in 2012. “The danger is she will be remembered not for her cold-heartedness and brutality but for being a woman entrepreneur in an emerging field dominated by men.”
Have a tip? Send it to us! Email In Touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.