'Godmother of cocaine' dies in ride-by shooting, a tactic she invented

'Poetic justice' for Gridelda Blanco, 69, who ordered killings to run Miami's cocaine trade

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 September, 2012, 4:06am


She lived as the "godmother of cocaine", ruthlessly ordering scores of bloody murders and violent revenge attacks as she plotted the course of Miami's infamous drug wars.

So it seemed only fitting that the manner of Griselda Blanco's death on Monday reflected the brutality for which she became notorious - gunned down in the street by a killer on a motorcycle as she left a butcher's shop in her hometown of Medellin in Colombia.

Blanco, 69, was credited with inventing the motorcycle ride-by killing during her years controlling southern Florida's fledgling cocaine trade in the late 1970s and early 1980s, an era in which she pocketed billions of dollars before being convicted of three murders, including that of a two-year-old boy. Detectives suspected her of dozens more.

"It's some kind of poetic justice that she met an end that she delivered to so many others," said Professor Bruce Bagley, head of the University of Miami's department of international studies and author of the book Drug Trafficking in the Americas.

"Here is a woman who made a lot of enemies on her rise and was responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of people. She might have retired to Colombia and wasn't anything like the kind of player she was in her early days, but she had lingering enemies almost everywhere you look. What goes around comes around."

Blanco, who was deported from the United States in 2004 after serving almost two decades in jail in New York and Florida for racketeering and murder, became one of Miami's original drug gangsters as smuggled cocaine overtook marijuana as the dealers' most profitable commodity.

She set up a distribution network across the US that netted her tens of millions of dollars a month, making shipments of more than 1.5 tonnes, and maintained her dominance by building an empire staffed with violent enforcers, who were well rewarded for following her orders to execute rivals, while leaving no witnesses.

During her Florida reign of terror she was suspected of responsibility in at least 40 murders, possibly as many as 200, yet was convicted of only three - two drug dealers who crossed her, and a two-year-old boy, the son of a former Blanco enforcer.