“Cocaine godmother” Griselda Blanco gunned down in Colombia

By source · Sep 4, 2012 · ·
  1. source
    Griselda Blanco, the drug kingpin known for her blood-soaked style of street vengeance during Miami’s “cocaine cowboys” era of the ’70s and ’80s, was shot to death in Medellin by a motorcycle-riding assassin Monday.

    Blanco, 69, spent nearly two decades behind bars in the United States for drug trafficking and three murders, including the 1982 slaying of a 2-year-old boy in Miami.
    Called the “Godmother of Cocaine,” she was deported in 2004 to Colombia, where she maintained a low profile.

    Colombia’s national police confirmed her slaying late Monday. According to Colombian press reports, two gunmen on motorcycles pulled up to Blanco as she walked out of a butcher shop in Medellin, her hometown. One man pumped two bullets into her head, according to El Colombiano newspaper. It was the sort of death many had predicted for her: Blanco has been credited with inventing the idea of the “motorcycle assassin” who rode by victims and sprayed them with bullets.

    “It’s surprising to all of us that she had not been killed sooner because she made a lot of enemies,” former Miami homicide detective Nelson Andreu, who investigated her, said late Monday. “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.”

    The former kingpin was with a pregnant daughter-in-law, who was uninjured. According to El Colombiano, the woman told police that Blanco was no longer involved in organized crime and that she was hoping to live off the sales of several properties she owned.

    Blanco came to epitomize the “cocaine cowboy” bloodshed of the 1980s, when rival drug dealers brazenly ambushed rivals in public.

    Raised in the slums of Medellin, she began her criminal career as a pickpocket, eventually commanding an empire that reportedly shipped 3,400 pounds of cocaine per month, by boat and plane. She was considered a Colombian pioneer in drug smuggling to the United States, a precursor to the larger cartels that dominated in the 1980s. She even had a Medellin lingerie shop custom design bras and girdles with special pockets to hold cocaine, a tool used by her drug mules flying to Miami.

    She ran the organization with her three of her four sons, two of whom were later assassinated in Colombia.

    Blanco was known for her flamboyant lifestyle — one of her sons was named Michael Corleone, an homage to The Godfather movies. Three of her husbands also died in drug-related violence.
    But it was her nasty temper and penchant for unyielding violence that drew the attention of law enforcement and the public.

    Investigators linked her to the daytime 1979 submachine gun attack at Dadeland Mall that shocked Miami. Detectives conservatively estimated that she was behind about 40 homicides, but she was only convicted of three murders.

    Two of them: Blanco arranged the slayings drug dealers Alfredo and Grizel Lorenzo in their South Miami house, as their three children watched television in another room. They had failed to pay $250,000 for five kilos of cocaine that Blanco had allegedly delivered to them.

    She was also convicted of ordering a shooting that resulted in the death of 2-year-old Johnny Castro, shot twice in the head as he drove in a car with his father, Jesus “Chucho” Castro. Blanco was targeting Jesus Castro, a former enforcer for Blanco’s organization.

    Detectives learned the intimate details of the hit from Jorge Ayala, the charismatic hitman who later testified against Blanco. He told police that Blanco wanted Castro killed because he kicked her son in the buttocks.
    “At first she was real mad ’cause we missed the father,” Ayala told police. “But when she heard we had gotten the son by accident, she said she was glad, that they were even.”

    She had been arrested in 1985 in a cocaine trafficking case in New York. Ultimately, she served 13 years in federal custody before she was handed over to Florida authorities.

    Blanco seemed destined for Florida’s Death Row — but the prosecution’s murders case was dealt a severe blow. The reason: Ayala — the case’s chief witness — engaged in phone sex with secretaries from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. After an investigation, three secretaries were fired and a veteran prosecutor resigned.

    Special prosecutors from Orlando took over the case, and Blanco cut a plea deal in 1998.

    Blanco was sentenced to three concurrent 20-year sentences, of which she had to serve only about one-third because of guidelines in effect at the time of the murders. Even on her return to Colombia, she was believed to have held onto immense wealth.

    In recent years, younger Miamians were introduced to Blanco via two “Cocaine Cowboys” documentaries made by filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman.
    “This is classic live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword,” Corben said Monday. “Or in this case, live-by-the-motorcycle-assassin, die-by-the-motorcycle assassin.”

    By David Ovalle, Monday 3rd September 2012, The Miami Herald
    Miami Herald staff writer Jim Wyss also contributed to this report.

    Share This Article


  1. Cash.Nexus
    Interesting...I have the first "Cocaine Cowboys" documentary. It starts with the Dadeland Mall shoot-out, then introduces various players including Ayala the hitman. But Blanco is the (anti-)heroine of Cocaine Cowboys; colourful character sure enough.

    Mad to think she had been out of prison and back home for years, considering her heavy rep.
  2. somnitek
    Probably not even in anger, or for revenge.

    Probably just for someone trying to make a name by capitalizing on hers, and idea they did it, or something like that.

    If only these sorts could take suggestions, ya know?
  3. Pain Hurts
    Seriously, anyone who knows a bit about how much revenue this substance brings in and the overall gains from sale , I mean, at this point, if you are such a huge player you simply cannot walk around the city, any city, anywhere in the world because of the huge number of enemies looking to capitalize on your demise. Hostile takeovers. Then aagain, it may have been a kid with a pure luck shot from far away, regardless I stress, if you wanna play with the big boys (and ladies) you gotta be a ghost. I dont know much but I do know Cocaine breeds intense greed and corruption because it breeds the best euphoria and synapse orgy.
  4. Alien Sex Fiend
    shoooting an old lady coming out of a butcher shop? come on, thats weak
    So what she used to be Grandmother of Coke
  5. Pain Hurts
    I agree WarmCoco, its crazy but so is some of the behavior I have seen that honestly never imagined I would. All due to Coke. I dont know where to go ...
    p.s., I like your hair. : )
  6. somnitek
    Old lady? This bitch was crazy, like a fox, or maybe, crazy like a fox who was also a drug kingpin and offed mofos like a mad butcher.

    I forget how all it blew up on her in more exact detail, but at some point, she eventually caught a case. It may have been murder, or even a RICO-racketeering case (forget to be honest). In the end they only got her on some minor charge or charges, and then they deported her back to Colombia.
  7. SmokeTwibz
    Murder of Miami’s ‘Cocaine Queen’ Offers Teaching Moment

    The Truth of the Drug War Won’t Be Found in Hollywood or the Mainstream Media — Which Both Work From the Same Tired Script

    Griselda Blanco, 69, was cut down in front of a butcher shop in Medellin, Colombia, in early September by a middle-aged man who was delivered to the murder scene on the back of a motorcycle — and who calmly, methodically, jumped off the back of that bike, held a gun to Blanco’s head, and pumped two bullets into her brain.

    Blanco, well prior to her death, had been pumped up as a rock star of the drug war by the US mainstream media and various Hollywood-inspired films, such as the Cocaine Cowboys documentary. In fact, at the time of her death, several feature films about her life as a big-time cocaine dealer and killer in Miami in the 1970s and early 1980s were reportedly in the works — including one in which movie star Jennifer Lopez is seeking to play the leading role as the “Narco Queen” in hopes of winning an Oscar, according to Fox News Latino.

    But Blanco, like so many other US-media created narco anti-heroes, is more fiction than reality, and a prime example of how US “news” coverage of the drug war has become essentially indistinguishable from the fiction manufactured in Tinsel Town.

    Baruch Vega, a long-time CIA asset who, in the 1990s and early 2000s, helped to broker cooperating-source deals on behalf of US law enforcement agencies and the CIA with dozens of major Colombian narco-traffickers, describes Blanco as, at best, a mid-level player in the cocaine business during her prime.

    “She was made out to be the queen of cocaine, but there were much more powerful people,” Vega says. “She was responsible for killing a lot of people [street lore puts the number at a couple hundred], but she wasn’t the biggest killer. The biggest hit man at the time [in Miami cocaine wars in the early 1980s] was a Venezuelan named Amilcar Rodriquez. Many of the people that Blanco claimed she killed, he was responsible for killing, but he was happy to let her take the credit.”

    Nonetheless, Blanco had made a long list of deadly enemies by the time she was 69 — after serving years in a US prison prior to being deported in 2004 back to her native land of Colombia. And it is the still-open question of who assassinated her on the streets of Medellin last month that opens a door to the past, to the obscured history of the drug war that you will not read about in the New York Times or see exposed on CNN, or even in a Hollywood film — precisely because it is not fiction.

    The Cocaine Coup

    One murder scene that Blanco’s fingerprints are all over, most observers agree, is the Dadeland Mall shootout in Miami in 1979, which left two people dead in the wake of a barrage of bullets in front of a liquor store. The assassins in that hit job worked for Blanco, and one of the men left dead, not reported until this time, was the father of a brutal Colombian killer and drug dealer named Papo Mejia (Luis Fernando Arcila Mejia), according to Mike Levine, a retired DEA agent who was working some of the biggest deep undercover cases for the agency in the 1970s and 1980s — both in the US and South America.

    One of those cases, dubbed Operation Hun, targeted major Bolivian and Colombian narco-traffickers, including Mejia. But Levine, author of a detailed and revelatory nonfiction drug-war book, The Big White Lie, insists that, due to CIA intervention and complicity in the drug trade, most of the targets of Operation Hun walked free, with a few exceptions, such as Mejia — who was ultimately convicted of narco-trafficking-related crimes, sentenced to a couple decades in a US prison and, upon his release in the early 2000s, deported to Colombia.

    But prior to his arrest in the early 1980s, Mejia himself was the target of a Blanco assassination attempt — the two were bitter rivals in Miami’s cocaine street wars — one in which the sicario stabbed Mejia some 10 times with a rusty bayonet blade, in broad daylight, at Miami International Airport, shortly after Mejia had debarked from a flight from Colombia. Mejia survived. But the attack allowed DEA — who to that point had lost track of him — to arrest him on charges related to Operation Hun. The key cooperating source in that DEA undercover operation was a beautiful and deadly Bolivian named Sonia Atala — who, by any measure, was the true “Cocaine Queen” of the 1980s. She worked with Levine, posing as his lover, as part of Operation Hun — and for whom the operation was named (“Atala” the Hun; DEA humor). Atala also happened to be a key CIA asset, according to Levine.

    “Of all the drug barons in Bolivia, Sonia’s connections in Colombia and the United States — where most Bolivians had feared to go — were the best. [Bolivian Minister of the Interior Col. Luis] Arce Gomez quickly recognized her value to the government and put her in charge of selling the government’s cocaine, then piling up in bank vaults and beginning to rot,” Levine writes in his book the Big White Lie. “The Cocaine Coup had turned Sonia Atala into the chief international sales representative of the country [Bolivia], then producing [in the early 1980s] 80 percent of the world’s cocaine — beyond doubt the biggest drug dealer in the world.”
    Levine explains that in 1979 and 1980, the center-left Bolivian government of Lidia Gueiler Tejada had agreed to work with DEA in targeting that nation’s major narco-barons, individuals such as Roberto Suarez, Jose Gasser and Alfredo Guitierrez. That led these narco-traffickers, cloaked in the garbs of legitimate businessman, along with elements of the Bolivian military, who were assisted by former Nazis, literally — chief among them, Klaus Barbie, dubbed the Butcher of Lyon for the brutal torture tactics he employed in Nazi Occupied France during World War II — to organize a successful coup d'etat against Gueiler’s government. Levine adds that the CIA backed this “Cocaine Coup” and that many of its chief architects and key players, the top narco-traffickers in Bolivia, were, in fact, CIA assets.

    But Levine is not alone in his assessment of the forces behind the Cocaine Coup, which resulted in making Bolivia a South American narco-state in the early 1980s and a major supplier of cocaine to the US during the period in which Griselda Blanco and Papo Mejia were fighting over the streets of Miami.

    Robert Parry, a former Associated Press reporter who played a key role in exposing the Iran/Contra scandal in the mid-1980s, in a story written in 1998, describes Bolivia’s Cocaine Coup (which, Parry claims, also was aided by the neo-fascist/US-supported Argentine government of that era, a government that launched a “Dirty War” against so-called “leftists,” which resulted in the “disappearing” and torture/murders of the thousands of Argentines in the late 1970s).

    From Parry’s story, co-written with Marta Gurvich:

    Parry's story continues:

    It is important to note that this history still resonates today, in the current US presidential election. Candidate Mitt Romney’s signature company, Bain Capital, was launched in the early 1980s with the help of seed capital from Central American oligarchs, who, according to some press reports, helped to finance right-wing death squads operating in Central America at the time.

    Prime Suspect
    But in the drug business, treachery is right up there with greed and power as the guiding forces of the trade, and Bolivia’s Queen of Cocaine, Atala, fell victim to those rules. She had grown too powerful in the eyes of some of the Bolivian narcos running the country in 1980 and 1981, and so they double-crossed her on a coke deal she had made with the Colombian Mejia — then in his mid-20s. She had no place to run.

    Mejia was out to kill her and Atala’s Bolivian allies had turned against her, according to Levine, so she ran to her only other “friends,” the DEA — with the CIA still, always, in the background. That resulted in Operation Hun, with Levine going undercover in an extremely dangerous assignment working to make cases, with Atala’s assistance as an informant, targeting her Bolivian and Colombian associates.

    But there was a big problem with the plan, Levine says. The CIA had no intention of turning over their still-useful narco-trafficker assets in Latin America at a time when they were helping to sponsor dirty wars across that region that were deemed to be in the US interest in its battle against Communism — the War on Terror of its day.

    As a result, the cases Levine and others helped to build in the early 1980s against the major Bolivian narcos behind the Cocaine Coup, including Suarez, Gasser and Guitierrez, all fell apart due to the inherent conflict between the objectives of US intelligence agencies and US law enforcement — in which the former holds most of the cards. Even Atala, in the end — a woman who, as Levine writes in the Big White Lie, had a “detachment of Klaus Barbie’s Nazi mercenaries … placed at her disposal” — proved to be beyond the reach of the law.

    From Levine’s book:

    But for Levine, the story does not have a fairy tale ending. After Mejia was nearly stabbed to death in Miami by one of Blanco’s assassins, Mejia was arrested by DEA, due to the case built against him in Operation Hun, and ultimately sent to jail, because of Levine’s case work and testimony.

    Levine told Narco News that Mejia is a very vengeful and skilled killer, who, at one time, “had an army of hit men” under his command, and has to be considered among the prime suspects in the September assassination of Blanco in Medellin.

    Levine described the scenario as follows in a recent email:

    Narco News attempted to contact Mejia’s former attorney, Finta, for comment. The number for his Miami-area law office is disconnected. He did not reply to an email query.

    Stay tuned…..

    Posted by Bill Conroy - October 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!