Film & TV

Who Is Miami's Cocaine Godmother Griselda Blanco, Subject of New Netflix Series?

The miniseries, created by the same team behind Narcos, tells the tale of Griselda Blanco, one of the most powerful and feared drug lords of the 1980s.
Sofia Vergara plays Miami coke trafficker Griselda Blanco in the new series Griselda.
Sofia Vergara plays Miami coke trafficker Griselda Blanco in the new series Griselda. Photo by Netflix, Griselda press kit
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Miami's notorious queen of cocaine is getting her own Netflix show.

Last week, Netflix released an official trailer for Griselda, a miniseries chronicling the life of Griselda Blanco and the vast drug empire she built during Miami's bloody drug wars of the 1970s and 1980s. Created by the same team behind Narcos, the series stars Colombian-born Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara as the ruthless drug lordess. The six-episode show is set to premiere in January 2024.

It won't be Blanco's first time on the big screen.

The wild and bloody tale of Blanco's life has been rehashed in a handful of films, including Billy Corben and Rakontur's 2008 documentary Cocaine Cowboys 2: Hustlin' With the Godmother and the 2018 Lifetime biopic Cocaine Godmother starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
New Times has chronicled Blanco's violent past since the late 1990s.

Born into deep poverty in Cartagena, Colombia, Blanco was only 11 when she allegedly committed her first murder — fatally shooting a child from an upscale neighborhood whom she had kidnapped and attempted to ransom, according to an account by her longtime romantic partner. She moved to the U.S. in the 1960s and lived with her four sons in Queens, New York, one of whom she named Michael Corleone as an homage to her love for the Godfather films.

Known as "La Madrina" (AKA the Godmother) and the "Black Widow," given her purported penchant for whacking her husbands, Blanco was accused of orchestrating multiple murders between Miami and New York City, including massacres in busy shopping malls, drive-by shootings in broad daylight, and an attack on a former enforcer in which a 2-year-old boy was fatally shot.

"If you bought drugs from her and didn’t pay her, she’d kill you," a former Miami homicide detective said in Corben's 2008 Cocaine Cowboys sequel. "And if she bought drugs from you and didn’t pay you, she’d also kill you."

Blanco oversaw a billion-dollar drug empire, at one point reportedly smuggling thousands of pounds of cocaine into Miami on a monthly basis and importing and slinging cocaine for Pablo Escobar's Medellín cartel. She also simultaneously ran a lingerie shop in Medellín, where she custom-designed bras with special pockets to stash cocaine for low-key smuggling into Miami.

After burning every last bridge during her years-long reign as Miami's most dreaded drug queen, she fled the city in 1984. In 1985, federal drug agents busted her in her California home; she was convicted the following year for conspiring to manufacture, import, and distribute cocaine.

While local prosecutors tried to charge her with three murders in 1994, the case fell apart after Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office employees were caught having phone sex with the prosecution's central witness. In 1998, Blanco pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced to two decades in prison. 

She was released in 2004 and deported to Medellín, where she lived under the radar until her 2012 murder by a motorcycle-riding assassin.

On September 3, 2012, while leaving an open-air butcher shop in Medellín with a $150 cut of meat, two masked men rode up on the 69-year-old greying Blanco and shot her twice in the head in an attack that resembled the signature style of motorcycle assassination that Blanco had been credited with coining.
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