By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
Michael had avoided his mother's perilous path until now. Under the advice of his criminal defense lawyer, Michael declined to comment for this article.
New Times pieced together Michael's life through court documents and depositions from his mother's criminal cases, news articles and books about the Blanco family, Cocaine Cowboys footage, interviews Michael gave in 2008 to other media outlets, the criminal complaint against him, and extensive conversations with his childhood best friend and business manager, Cristian Rios. The result is a compelling tale about a young man struggling to debunk his mother's homicidal reputation while at the same time embracing her criminal legacy to capitalize on its entertainment value. "Michael is well aware of who he is in the public eye," says Rios, who is convinced that Michael, who had inked a multimillion-dollar Hollywood deal six days before the bust, was set up. "He would not put his life in peril for something that would jeopardize his family, his movie deal, and his freedom."
One day in 1983, a 5-year-old Michael was in Medellín with his father, Dario Sepulveda, when their car was intercepted by men dressed as police officers. Griselda — also known as "The Black Widow" for having allegedly killed her first two husbands, one of whom had fathered her three eldest sons — had learned that her third hubby was messing around with a topless dancer from Fort Lauderdale. She confronted Sepulveda about his infidelity inside the Davie home of Max Mermelstein, a smuggler who acted as a point man for the cartel's distribution network.
The couple argued over Michael's custody. Sepulveda preferred to send his son to school, but Griselda wanted Michael to be with her all the time, according to Mermelstein's account for a 1989 Sun-Sentinel article. (Mermelstein died in 2008 after being in the witness protection program.) So Sepulveda took Michael to Colombia, where he thought his friends in the cartel, including kingpin Pablo Escobar and the Ochoa brothers, would protect him from his estranged wife.
The fake cops who intercepted Michael and his father opened fire on Sepulveda, killing him. After the shooting, Mermelstein said, "Little Michael was screaming and ran over to embrace his father. But by the time he got there, Dario was dead."
Following his dad's murder, Michael was reunited with his mom in Miami. But Sepulveda's friends and family members, including a brother who had been a hit man for Griselda, wanted revenge. Griselda never stayed in one place for too long. She was constantly uprooting Michael from one hideout to another to stay one step ahead of her enemies and drug agents. She had safe houses in South Florida, New York, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area.
When the Godmother and her sons fled to Irvine, California, the DEA ratcheted up its hunt. According to federal court documents, agents got a big break in 1984 when an old family friend named Gerry Gomez, who was doing a ten-year prison stint, volunteered to bring Griselda and her boys down. Gomez had owned a garage in Medellín where he had serviced cars and motorcycles owned by the Blancos.
Agents tracked down Griselda's house in Irvine. On the second day of surveillance, they spotted a 6-year-old Michael at the door. His mom was standing behind him. About 20 minutes later, six DEA detectives stormed the house. Michael watched as his mom was hauled off to jail. His brothers were subsequently arrested on trafficking charges. The Blancos' run had come to an end.
During the first five years that his mother was incarcerated, Michael lived with his maternal grandmother. According to his friend Rios, the boy had access to money and homes in Colombia that the U.S. government wasn't able to seize from his mother. When Griselda was sent to prison, Michael traveled back and forth between Medellín and the Bay Area, near the correctional facility where his mom was held. Sometimes he lived on his own. He would also seek out people to give him room and board.
In 1998, Griselda was transferred from California federal prison to a Florida state correctional facility after pleading no contest to three counts of second-degree murder in Miami. Griselda would have faced the electric chair if the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office hadn't bungled the case. Two of the prosecutor's secretaries were caught having phone sex with star witness and former Griselda button man Jorge Ayala. Upon her release in 2004, she was deported to Colombia.
In 2008, Michael told AllHipHop.com that from the time he was 12 until he reached adulthood, he was raised by various legal guardians whom he did not identify. "I would meet someone that my mother would know, and I would say, 'I'm going to live in your house, and I'm going to pay you rent, and you're going to be my legal guardian,' " Michael told the website. "At one point, the legal guardian happened to be a minister, and he taught me a lot about the Lord."
As the gatekeeper who guards entry into Michael's world, Rios, a rakish chap with a scraggly beard and straight, shoulder-length black hair, confirms that account. "Michael was always searching for a familial atmosphere that he lacked," Rios says. "He came away a better person because of those experiences. Michael would give a friend the shirt off his back. That's the man of substance he is."
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Are u fucking kidding me ? shut ur mouth u little piece of shit. you clearly know nothing. Griselda was a billionaire you're the bottom feeding goof. and guess what u sound like a generic clown the way u talk with that awww the pathetic drug dealer talk cus u know nothing. faggot
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Awwww, the pathetic drug dealing criminal son of a pathetic drug dealing bottom feeder got arrested. Who cares???
Only in America does an entire demographic idolize murderers and criminals. This is exactly why rap music is responsible for the downfall of intellectual society. All the kids who listen to that no talent garbage only see the flash and the glamour of the rap videos. No true ambition or work ethic is needed for this fantasy supplied by the irresponsible rap music industry.
Actually earning an honest days wages is foreign and alien to this entire generation thanks to the false images supplied by rap music.
Wake up you morons! Pride isn't about race its about being an individual who makes their way through life being honest, working hard, and maintaining integrity throughout. The polar opposite of the rap image.
Seriously?! You can't blame music....I listen to rap. Still I started working at McDonald's as a teenager and continued to go to school. Some times I worked two jobs. I made it all the way through law school. The whole time listening to rap music...and sometimes I even went to a convert. You can't blame the music. Every older generation feels that the younger generation's music is shocking. I think in THIS case it was a family trade.