The true story behind Netflix's new show Griselda is even more disturbing.

Warning: There are spoilers for Netflix's Griselda below.

Netflix's new miniseries Griselda tells the story of Griselda Blanco, the drug Queenpin known as "the Godmother" of the cocaine underworld.

Across six episodes, the show explores Blanco's entry into the drug world, her infamous reign and her downfall. Played by Sofia Vergara, she comes across as a smart and ambitious woman, whose actions are often terrifyingly ruthless — justified, a lot of the time, by her love of her family.

Netflix showrunner Eric Newman said he wanted to "humanise the complex character", as "every person has an explanation, not an excuse, but an explanation".

Watch the trailer for Griselda here. Post continues below video.

Video via Netflix.

The true story reveals that Griselda Blanco is just as merciless as shown in the series, if not more. Here is what we know about the woman who allegedly scared even Pablo Escobar.

Who was Grisela Blanco?

Born in Colombia in 1943, Griselda Blanco fell into the criminal world in the nation's capital, Medellín, at a young age. Her father abandoned the family, and her mother was allegedly physically abusive.


At age 11, Blanco reportedly kidnapped a child from a wealthy family and then shot him dead when his family refused to pay a random. She also pickpocketed as a teenager, and worked alongside her first husband Carlos Trujillo to forge documents including passports.

Trujillo and Blanco divorced but remained business partners until a disagreement that resulted in her having him executed.

In 1964, aged 21, she illegally immigrated to New York City with her three sons, Osvaldo, Uber and Dixon, and second husband Alberto Bravo and made a living selling marijuana.

Eventually, she purchased a lingerie company and graduated from marijuana, creating secret compartments in bras for smugglers to move cocaine around in.

She and Bravo returned to Colombia to evade American authorities in the mid-70s, where they continued their drug trade. In a disagreement, she killed Bravo with a gunshot wound to the head.

This undated Florida Department of Corrections mug shot of Griselda Blanco. Image: AAP.


In the late 1970s, Blanco returned to the United States with her third husband Darío Sepúlveda, and their son Michael Corleone Blanco, named after The Godfather character. 

This time, the family settled in Miami and became embroiled in the state's notorious drug war. 

Blanco was one of the first to run large-scale smuggling of cocaine into the United States, establishing routes that were later used by other notorious cartel members including Pablo Escobar.

Her reputation proceeded her, earning her nicknames like La Jefa (the boss), Godmother and Black Widow, referencing the killings of her husbands. She also became one of the US' richest people, with a net worth estimated to be US$2 billion at her peak.

Blanco became known for her prolific ordering of murders, including an infamous shootout at Dadeland Mall, where two of her hitmen murdered two men at a liquor store.


Sepúlveda left her in 1983 and returned to Colombia, kidnapping their son. 

Blanco paid to have Sepúlveda assassinated, according to a 1989 Sun-Sentinel article featuring an interview with smuggler Max Mermelstein.

Men dressed as police officers intercepted Sepúlveda's car before opening fire and killing him in front of a very young Michael.

Michael was returned to his mother in the US. According to a 2011 profile, Blanco and her youngest son spent their time moving from safe house to safe house.

Then, in 1984, Blanco's empire finally came crashing down.

How Griselda Blanco was caught.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had been chasing Blanco for years without success.

She had safe houses across the country and became known for her ability to change her appearance drastically from one day to the next.

“When I first laid eyes on her she was dressed like an American middle-aged woman who was very fastidious about herself. She had a blonde coloured wig, very nicely manicured. Her features and everything were just very well-groomed, her dress, she just looked quite sharp," DEA Special Agent Bob Palombo told The Independant, saying that she was so unrecognisable that he initially looked right past her when coming across her in the lobby of a Newport Beach hotel.

A couple of months later, she was "180-degrees different", with an extremely unkempt look.


The authority's breakthrough finally came following the arrest of Geraldo Gomez, a Colombian who had been Blanco's mechanic in their home country.

He shared what he knew in exchange for protection and the ability to stay in the United States.

In February 1985, Blanco was arrested at her home in Irvine, California. 

She was charged and found guilty of conspiring to manufacture, import, and distribute cocaine. 

She was sentenced to 15 years in prison. While in prison, she was also sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty to three counts of second-degree murder.

Griselda Blanco's death.

Blanco was released from prison in 2004 on compassionate grounds amid health issues and deported to Colombia.

She evaded death for eight years, much to the surprise of US authorities, but was eventually gunned down in 2012 outside a butcher shop.

Her killer escaped on a motorcycle, mimicking the assassination technique she had become famous for throughout her years in Miami.

She was 69 years old.

What happened to Griselda Blanco's sons?

Blanco's three eldest sons were involved in the family's drug business.

Two of them, Osvaldo and Dixon, were in prison at the same time as she was, and were paroled in 1992. 

As depicted in the Netflix series, Osvaldo was killed in a Colombia nightclub that same year.


Following Blanco's death, a Miami-Herald report stated two of her sons had been assassinated, and as it was also reported that Dixon was still alive at the time, it is believed that Uber was also killed sometime between 1992 and 2012.

In a 2020 interview with The Mirror, Michael stated that all three of his brothers had been murdered, indicating that Dixon had also been killed between 2012 and 2020.

Michael starred in Cartel Crew, a reality show about people whose family were connected to famous drug cartels, from 2019 to 2021. 

He told Fox News he had turned away from the family business after his mother's death. He now runs a clothing brand called Puro Blanco that pays homage to her.

Ahead of Griselda's release, Michael sued Netflix, the series production company and star Sofia Vergara, claiming the creators of the series used his "private artistic literary work" without permission or credit, which has created "irreparable harm".

He also told the Daily Mail that Vergara's portrayal, which included facial prosthetics, was "disrespectful".

"My mother was a beautiful woman and it's crazy that a lot of people say 'No, you've got to look more like a drug addict'... The fact that they call her 'ugly' that really offends me," he said.

All six episodes of Griselda are streaming on Netflix.

Feature image: Netflix.

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