This Is How Drug Lord Griselda Blanco Was Killed

Notorious Medellín Cartel drug lord Griselda Blanco shaped her legacy with the vicious approach she exerted over the cocaine trade in the 1970s and 1980s. Although she was too cunning to pull the trigger on enemies herself, Blanco had no qualms about ordering the bloody murder of anyone who stood in the way of her wealth and power. In the end, the Miami Herald noted that she met the same fate as many she had called for herself — gunned down by a hired assassin at the behest of a rival.

Colombian media claimed that two motorcycle-riding hitmen located Blanco while she was leaving a butcher shop in the Medellín neighborhood of Belen with her pregnant daughter-in-law. Although her relative was unharmed, CNN reported that one of the hitmen shot Blanco twice in the head at close range. The infamous "Black Widow" was allegedly dead by the time law enforcement arrived at the scene. The assassination utilized a technique — the motorcycle drive-by hit — that Blanco is said to have invented, wrote The Guardian.

Blanco got a rough start in life

Throughout her life, the 5-foot-tall, Cartagena-born mother of four enjoyed a brutal reputation that belied her seeming frailty. While it can be difficult to muster much sympathy for a figure as callous as Blanco, it's depressingly easy to see that she was very much a product of the culture that shaped her and a childhood that might be described as Dickensian — if the world Dickens created had somehow been much worse.

According to The Sun, Blanco was born to an alcoholic, abusive mother. In Touch Weekly reports that she was also the victim of ongoing sexual abuse by her mother's boyfriend. Coming of age during the country's horrific civil war, Blanco also earned money by digging graves. She is believed to have engaged in sex work and been a pickpocket before her crimes really escalated at age 11, when she's believed to have participated in a kidnapping for ransom of a young boy. When the child's family couldn't pay the ransom, it was Blanco who pulled the trigger.

Before long, the streets of Cartagena could no longer contain Blanco, who left for Medellín as a teenager. The cunning and resourcefulness she developed during her early, desperate years probably played a large part in becoming one of the world's wealthiest women. As her son Michael Corleone Blanco (yes, really) told The Mirror, "My mother was no saint. She had to survive to do her thing."

The rise of Griselda Blanco

Blanco's ingenuity meant she was often an unlikely innovator in a field dominated by men. According to Don Diva Magazine, Blanco was raking in $8 million monthly at the height of her power, partially thanks to her inventiveness. Reportedly, she developed her own line of lingerie with hidden compartments that made it easier for women to transport drugs. La Madrina even owned her own lingerie shop!

With her second husband, Alberto Bravo, along for the ride, Blanco established her own network for dealing cocaine in the U.S., says Listverse. She sold to celebrities, famous athletes, and other people of prominence. She also had the good fortune (or maybe foresight) to be in Miami at the precise moment the city's cocaine boom was beginning.

While she's often given credit for mentoring her eventual successor, Pablo Escobar, the reality of their relationship is much more complex and the two were rivals much of the time Blanco was operating in Miami. In death, however, Blanco's genius still held sway as the cartels continued to use the distribution network Blanco had established.

Blanco left a trail of blood during her time in the cartel

Known as the "Godmother of Cocaine," Blanco was a fixture of the "cocaine cowboys" era that saw the drug proliferate in Miami, with its proceeds funding the city's real estate boom in the 1970s and '80s, per The Big Bubble Miami. According to The Guardian, she was widowed three times and believed to be responsible for anywhere from 40 to 200 murders.

Blanco's unwavering ruthlessness was well-known. She was suspected of being responsible for the murder of the 2-year-old son of one of her former associates. While his father was the target, Blanco was allegedly happy with the child's death.

For as much misery as Blanco heaped on other families, hers also suffered due to her prominence. According to The Mirror, three of her four sons were murdered. Her sole surviving son, Michael, survived seven assassination attempts.

Following a 20-year imprisonment in the states, Blanco was released and deported back to Colombia in 2004. According to Blanco's pregnant daughter-in-law, she was trying to leave her past life behind and succeed in the field of real estate at the time she was killed. But Bruce Bagley, author and head of the University of Miami's department of international studies, believes that this perception of the heartless killer is dangerous.

"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," he told The Guardian.