Longform

Griselda "The Godmother" Blanco's Lone Surviving Heir Ends Up Stumbling Into His Own Cocaine Arrest

Nariz sat at a table inside the Dunkin' Donuts on Alton Road at 16th Street in Miami Beach. It was late afternoon this past May 12 as the fidgety, 33-year-old Colombian waited for his new associate, a man we'll call "Rata," to show up. Nariz rubbed his bearded cleft chin and then his bird-beak nose that earned him his nickname. He wore shorts and a T-shirt exposing the tattoo on his right forearm that spelled Xtorxion, the name of his defunct record label.

His heavy brown eyes scanned the glass door. Unbeknown to Nariz, a couple of investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration were inside the coffee shop watching him. They were assisting the Sunrise Police Department's vice squad, which had been keeping tabs on Nariz for two months. Rata had told the cops that Nariz was looking to score ten to 20 kilos on behalf of some rappers he knew.

During a recorded phone conversation earlier that day, Nariz had allegedly agreed to buy five bricks at $21,000 a kilo from Rata to kick off their relationship. Nariz informed Rata that he did not have the full amount to pay for the coke, so he offered the seller two pieces of collateral: the title to a 2009 Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle, worth an estimated $10,000, and a shimmering white-gold necklace with a gigantic diamond-encrusted pendant that spelled out the letters T and S, the initials K.A.R., and the phrase Kill All Rats.

One of the vice squad detectives outfitted Rata with a hidden recording device and dropped him off at the coffee shop. Thirty-seven miles away in Sunrise, at a Shell gas station at 10300 W. Commercial Blvd., Nariz's buddy Abel Fernandez had a date with Rata's alleged partner, a beefy Hispanic undercover officer named Peña, who was also wired for sound.

After Fernandez received a text message from Nariz that Rata was at Dunkin' Donuts, he followed Peña to a warehouse at 4500 Hiatus Road. Inside the warehouse, Fernandez unzipped a canvas bag containing $19,500 in cash, the motorcycle title, and the gaudy chain.

Peña, who brought his own bag with the five kilos, opened it and showed Fernandez a brick. Satisfied, Fernandez grabbed the coke and walked outside. Peña gave his squad mates the takedown signal. Fernandez was arrested before he could put the drugs inside the trunk of his Civic.

A few minutes later in Miami Beach, the DEA agents inside Dunkin' Donuts cuffed Nariz. As he listened to one of the cops read him his Miranda rights, Nariz may have fretted about what his mother might do: She's gonna kill me.


From the moment he was born on August 5, 1978, in Medellín until his mother was arrested on February 17, 1985, Michael Corleone Blanco, AKA "Nariz," was always by her side. During that time, Griselda Blanco, known as "The Godmother of Cocaine," would solidify her reputation as the most ruthless narcotics queenpin in the early days of America's drug war.

La Madrina, as she was known by fellow traffickers and law enforcement, lorded over a billion-dollar criminal enterprise that moved about 3,400 pounds of cocaine a month in the United States. The DEA estimated she had 600 people on her payroll and had developed her own line of underwear with secret pockets that could hold one to two kilos of cocaine to sneak through customs, according to the nonfiction book Kings of Cocaine.

La Madrina broke the glass ceiling in the male-dominated underworld of the Colombian cartels by ruthlessly killing anyone who crossed her. She was accused of ordering at least 40 homicides from Miami to New York. Legend has it that Griselda is haunted by a body count that surpasses 250. From a very young age, Michael was witnessing his mom's criminality.

Jorge "Rivi" Ayala, a former hit man who turned witness against Griselda, once told state prosecutors that in 1981, he accepted a $50,000 payment for killing a man for the Godmother while a then-3-year-old Michael was in the room. "He was there with his mommy and his daddy," Ayala testified.

Obsessed with the epic gangster film The Godfather and its sequel, Griselda named Michael after the movies' main character. La Madrina fantasized that her fourth and youngest son would follow a path similar to that of Vito Corleone's Mikey. Much like the movie's Genco Pura Olive Oil Co., Griselda's illicit corporation was a family affair. Her three oldest sons moved roughly 2,200 pounds of yayo in Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Michael was the heir apparent.

But it didn't turn out the way La Madrina had planned. Michael's father and older siblings were all killed before he reached adulthood. His mom was in prison for most of his childhood and teenaged years, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother and legal guardians.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.