Griselda Blanco, 70, was known as La Madrina, the godmother—and for all the bad reasons. Blanco, who was gunned down in her hometown of Medellin, Colombia, will go down as one of the architects of the illegal drug industry. She began her career in New York City during the 1970s with her husband—whom she later killed. Eventually, she would build the supply line that stretched all the way from the U.S. to Colombia, effectively bypassing mafia middlemen. She became fabulously wealthy, establishing a foundation in Miami at about the same time the city’s violent drug wars were underway in the early 80s. Blanco likely had a hand in the carnage.
Miami law enforcement authorities believe at least 40 killings were connected to her. She became legendary for ordering assassinations for her own amusement. Her preferred method of execution was to send her henchmen to kill her enemies via motorcycle drive-by shooting: as one henchman drove, another on the bike opened fire.
She was convicted of federal drug charges in 1985, and after serving her 10-year sentence, was sent to Florida to stand trial for the capital murder of a rival’s child. But a blunder in the Miami-Dade District Attorney’s office allowed her to cut a deal to get a 20-year sentence and be deported back to Colombia in 2004. There she lived her life quietly, saying that she had sworn-off her old narco-chieftain lifestyle, instead earning income off of rental properties. But the enemies she had apparently did not forget or forgive her.
In September, while entering a market with an ex-daughter-in-law, a motorcycle pulled up with two riders on it. The assassin got off the bike, aimed and shot her twice in the head, then rode off without being followed. Her ex-daughter-in-law was unharmed. A witness who knew of Blanco and her deeds simply said: “He was a professional, it was vengeance from the past.”