Griselda Blanco: The Real Story Behind The 'Godmother' Who Left Terror In Her Wake

At only 5 feet tall, with an oval-shaped face, dimples and a cleft chin, Griselda Blanco wasn’t exactly an intimidating physical presence. And initially, this led to people underestimating the woman who would become known as the “Cocaine Godmother.” But over the years, the Miami underworld learned to fear her: the enigmatic Colombian crime boss ruled the drug game with an unparalleled viciousness. Her chameleonic nature allowed her to evade the authorities — and her enemies — for decades while she built her empire.

The DEA’s number-one “rogue”

First of all, to give you an idea of just how wanted Blanco was by law enforcement at the height of her notoriety, she was ranked by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as its number-one “rogue” in 1993. By that point, the agency had existed for 20 years, and during its war on drugs had taken down Carlos Lehder, the head of the infamous Medellin cartel.

It had also put away New York drug dealer Leroy “Nicky” Barnes; George Marquardt, the chemist who created fentanyl; and Wayne “Akbar” Pray, leader of a trafficking outfit in New Jersey.

Blanco and her Pistoleros

What exactly made Blanco a bigger fish for the DEA than these other notorious criminals, though? Well, in an internal document, the agency wrote, “Griselda loved killings. Bodies lined the streets of Miami as a result of her feuds. She gathered around her a group of henchmen known as the Pistoleros.”

It continued, “Initiation into the group was earned by killing someone and cutting off a body part as proof of the deed. It is said that one of the Pistoleros assassinated a rival by riding up to him on a motorcycle and shooting him point-blank.”

The Dadeland Massacre

For the most part, it was Blanco’s propensity for indiscriminate violence that put her ahead of other “narcos,” at least in the DEA’s eyes. The document continued, “She not only killed rivals and wayward lovers, but used murder as a means of canceling debts she didn’t want to pay.”

It added, “A particularly bloody massacre that took place in July 1979 in a Miami shopping centre became known as the Dadeland Massacre.” In this incident, two armed hitmen executed a Colombian drug rival and his bodyguard in broad daylight.

Drug violence like this had never been so brazen

In the chaos, dozens of rounds of ammunition were fired in the liquor store and the parking lot, with two employees being wounded. In 2019 Miami detective Nelson Andreu told NBC 6, “It was a rude awakening for both the law-enforcement community in south Florida, as well as the citizens of south Florida.”

He elucidated, “If you're at the mall… and bullets are flying, it’s a very good possibility that you may be hit by one of those stray rounds. So, the community became scared; the police department began to prepare.”