MIAMI: Griselda Blanco, the drug kingpin known for her blood-soaked style of street vengeance during Miami's "cocaine cowboys" era of the '70s and '80s, was shot to death Monday in Medellin by a motorcycle-riding assassin.
Blanco, 69, spent nearly two decades behind bars in the United States for drug trafficking and three murders, including the 1982 slaying of a 2-year-old boy in Miami.
Called the "Godmother of Cocaine," she was deported in 2004 to Colombia, where she maintained a low profile.
Colombia's national police confirmed her slaying late Monday. According to press reports, two gunmen on motorcycles pulled up to Blanco as she left a butcher shop in Medellin, her hometown. One man pumped two bullets into her head, according to El Colombiano newspaper. It was the sort of death many had predicted for her: Blanco was said to have invented the idea of the "motorcycle assassin."
"It's surprising to all of us that she had not been killed sooner, because she made a lot of enemies," former Miami detective Nelson Andreu said.
Blanco was with a pregnant daughter-in-law, who was uninjured. According to El Colombiano, the woman told police that Blanco was no longer involved in organized crime and that she was hoping to live off the sales of several properties she owned.
Raised in the slums of Medellin, she began her criminal career as a pickpocket, eventually commanding an empire that reportedly shipped 3,400 pounds of cocaine per month. She was considered a Colombian pioneer in drug smuggling to the United States, a precursor to the larger cartels that dominated in the 1980s. She even had a Medellin lingerie shop custom-design bras and girdles with special pockets to hold cocaine, a tool used by her drug mules flying to Miami.
She ran the organization with three of her four sons, two of whom were slain in Colombia. Three of her husbands also died in drug-related violence.
Detectives conservatively estimated she was behind about 40 homicides. She was convicted of just three, including the death of 2-year-old Johnny Castro, who was shot twice in the head as he rode in a car with his father, Jesus "Chucho" Castro. Blanco was targeting Jesus Castro, a former enforcer for Blanco's organization.