The original Cocaine Cowboys film came out in April 2006 and I immediately bought the DVD when it became available. As someone that was, and is, fascinated by the cocaine boom of the 1980’s, this was the entire subculture and surrounding personalities/anecdotes/consequences rolled into one tour de force of a movie. Director Bill Corbin had given me the gritty true story of the era in intimate detail. Other periodicals and films had failed to elicit the realism I craved when discussing the topic (among them Killing Fidel and the popular movie Blow).
However, there were some problems with the conclusion of the documentary (which focused more on the city itself then the details of each character). Specifically, the case of Griselda Blanco, or El Madrina: the Godmother. She was one of the original cocaine traffickers from Columbia, starting out in Queens, and then working her way to Miami (which is where she came to prominence in the original film), eventually spreading her sociopathic tentacles all over America. The original film concludes with “Her precise whereabouts are Unknown.” When I saw that Cocaine Cowboys 2 was available to watch on my Netflix, I immediately queued it up and took it in. Keep reading to hear more about the unbelievable life of Griselda Blanco.Griselda Blanco (a perfect name for a cocaine kingpin) WAS cocaine in the 1980’s. Many believe El Padrino, Pablo Escobar, was the mastermind behind the massive amounts of cocaine that flooded into the U.S from Columbia throughout the late 1970’s and 1980’s, but they’re wrong. Griselda was the original Don of American Cocaine, and it has been claimed the first billionaire drug dealer.
In the follow up to Cocaine Cowboys, we meet a local crack dealer from Oakland named Charles Cosby. Cosby see’s Griselda Blanco on television, and falls in love with her persona. We meet Charles and his buddies, and he tells us about the money floating around Oakland because of the addictive advent of crack cocaine. Also provided: a handy “how to” for cooking crack (gotta love the educational aspects of the film). Then, Griselda comes into play.
In the second half of the film, Charles mails a letter to the detained Griselda espousing his love for what she represents as the (former?) cocaine Queen of Miami. Cosby is extremely ambitious and looks up to her as someone to emulate. For some reason, Griselda mails him back. They start a regular correspondence by phone and letter. Eventually they meet, and Griselda, still very powerful, even in prison, hooks him up with 50 Kilos of cocaine. They even start sleeping together even though Cosby is more than two decades her junior and she looks like this.
Cosby goes on to become one of the most influential and powerful cocaine traffickers in the country with operations in California, New York, Virginia, North Carolina and even Ohio. This is all due to Blanco’s backing, so he is able to form a direct pipeline to Columbia. Their dalliances in prison continue unimpeded until Jorge “Rivi” Ayala, Blanco’s old gun-for-hire, is arrested for some old murders in Florida and is faced with Florida’s death sentence. Not wanting to die in the chair, Rivi flips, and agrees to testify against Griselda. Facing the prospect of multiple murder counts compounded by her already lengthy rap sheet, the Queen of Cocaine hatches a plan.
Cosby recounts Blanco’s chilly reaction to the news that Rivi had flipped: a plot to kidnap and hold ransom JFK Jr. There is even a moment when the would be kidnappers are about to snatch him outside his Soho apartment, but a nearby police cruiser makes them hesitate and they abandon the attempt.
The weirdest part about this story, aside from the insane attempt to blackmail the US government into giving Blanco back her freedom for JFK Jr’s release, is that Blanco discusses the plot with Cosby over the phone FROM PRISON. The proper authorities are alerted when they hear the conversations, and Cosby is picked up by Federal Agents. Cosby agrees to testify in the extortion attempt in exchange for immunity. He flies to Florida and enters the DA’s office in Dade County. While there, he has a chance encounter with a secretary in the office. Their ensuing sexual episode would prove to be a precursor to the failed attempt to prosecute Blanco for her numerous hits on Miami cocaine dealers in the 1980’s. Exhausted yet?!
This same secretary, as well as another in the office, would derail the entire case against Griselda Blanco stemming from Rivi’s agreement to testify. It seems that Rivi had been having phone sex with these secretaries while he was providing state’s evidence in the case against Blanco. Their case blown, the Dade County District Attorney’s office cop a plea with Blanco, and combined with her time served for the trafficking charge, on June 6, 2004 Griselda Blanco is released from prison. She is immediately deported to Columbia, and never heard from again.
There was a Maxim article on the whole soap opera in 2008, and a reader sent in the photograph below of Griselda in a Bogota airport in May of 2007, but aside from that, no one has heard from her (that I could find).
What does this all mean? Well, if you attempt to find meaning behind this whole saga, your brain might just explode, so I prefer to just marvel at the flamboyance of this woman, and her life, and the fact that she is out of jail, and as far as we know, still exporting cocaine to the US. What else is she gonna do? In fact, you might have a Griselda Blanco cocaine drip going right now for all I know.
Just an insane story on all fronts, and I am sure there will be more twists before her life is out. Just know that she angered A LOT of people both in Columbia and here in the US, so the incentive to see her dead might be high enough for someone to find her and take her out, like she’s done to countless others throughout her incredible life.
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