The Surprising Amount Of Money Griselda Blanco Was Once Worth

Before she was gunned down in a bloody public hit in her hometown, Medellín Cartel drug lord Griselda Blanco was profiting from the booming cocaine trade that permeated the 1970s and 1980s. After setting up a network that moved massive amounts of the powerful stimulant across the sea from Colombia and through a vast United States distribution chain, she began to see the fruits of her labors.

Blanco kept her money-making enterprise moving largely due to her ruthless hits on enemies. According to Britannica, it was Blacno's ruthlessness that paved the way for the Cocaine Cowboy Wars, a violent era that began in the late-1970s. She had no qualms ordering hits in public areas during the day, including a local mall. When her foes began to order hits on her, she moved to the United States. But her reign of terror soon came to an end when she was arrested in 1985 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. And while she managed to secure an early release, she was ultimately deported to Colombia, where she was later killed.

After years of paving the streets of Medellín with death — she is believed to be behind up to 200 murders — Blanco took her savagely earned blood money and funneled it into real estate. So just how did Griselda Blanco earn so much money, and what was she worth at the peak of her operation? The answer might surprise you.

Her drug operation was extensive

The drug operation that Griselda Blanco used to accumulate her vast wealth was described by Britannica as "extensive and highly profitable." Along with drug trafficker Alberto Bravo, who she later married, Blanco operated their cocaine smuggling operation out of New York City. In one particular example of her cunning, Blanco would have her lingerie fitted with secret compartments that were used to conceal drugs.

Speaking to the "Real Narcos" podcast (via Noiser), historian Elaine Carey went into more detail about the revolutionary smuggling methods that drove Blanco's massive empire. "They were the right people at the right time with the right product ... It wasn't just coming in on people's bodies," she said. "It was also coming in false bags, suitcases, and dog crates. There were a lot of different ways ... But they were also creating garments that would facilitate this, such as specialized brassieres and girdles and things like that ... where they could actually enhance the female figure ... These garments would allow for the drugs to be more smoothed around the body and it would just look like a woman's natural figure."

According to Noiser, Blanco's smugglers could easily board flights with their drugs hiding in plain sight. The outlet claims that each specially fitted bra could hold 1 kilogram of cocaine, which, at the time, amounted to approximately $10,000 dollars in profit. Nowadays, Business Insider reported in 2016 that cocaine goes for $10,000 per kilogram in Central America, $12,000 in Mexico, $24,000 and $27,000 in the United States, and $53,000 to $55,000 in Europe.

Griselda Blanco was once worth $2 billion

Before her death, Celebrity Net Worth estimated that Griselda Blanco owned approximately $500 million worth of property. In the wake of her death, Colombian federal law enforcement seized four properties that amounted to around $118.7 million. Though her wealth appeared to have declined in her later years, signs of her life of luxury still followed her after her death. Notably, El País reports that her casket bears golden Arabesque designs, echoing the billions of dollars that she built throughout her life.

According to The Guardian, Blanco was raking in tens of millions of dollars monthly from her enterprise, which was known to make drug shipments that exceeded 1,500 kilograms. At her peak, Celebrity Net Worth valued her at an astounding $2 billion and claimed that she made up to $80 million per month through her vicious trade. As is expected from a former cartel drug lord, Blanco was believed to have held vastly more properties than were on the books. Per Celebrity Net Worth, she is believed to have held hundreds more properties than were discovered by law enforcement.

Speaking to El País, a Colombian police officer addressed Blanco's post-prison wealth amid rumors that she was struggling financially. "Poor? Listen to this: you and I are poor. She went around driving her mazdita [a black Mazda 6] and collecting the money from the leases on the properties she still owned. She was also selling a building for 1.5 million pesos," he said.