The Truth Behind Netflix Griselda: What’s Real and What’s Fiction

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The Truth Behind Netflix Griselda: What’s Real and What’s Fiction

The Truth Behind Netflix’s Griselda: What’s Real and What’s Fiction

The recent Netflix series *Griselda* has captivated audiences with its dramatized version of the life story of Griselda Blanco, the infamous “Cocaine Godmother” who built a ruthless drug empire in 1970s and ’80s Miami. But how accurate is this bloody, extravagant portrayal of Griselda and her exploits? While the show takes some artistic license, many of the main events and characters align closely with the historical record. Let’s break down fact versus fiction in the sensationalized saga of Miami’s most notorious female narco.

The Truth Behind Netflix Griselda: What’s Real and What’s Fiction
The Truth Behind Netflix Griselda: What’s Real and What’s Fiction. image by Netflix

Griselda’s Early Criminal Days

*Griselda* conveniently glosses over much of the title character’s extensive history in the drug underworld prior to establishing her power base in Florida. The real Griselda Blanco got an early start in crime, being raised in the slums of Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellín. She allegedly kidnapped and ransomed children before becoming immersed in Colombia’s booming illegal drug trade as a teenager in the 1960s. 

The Truth Behind Netflix Griselda: What’s Real and What’s Fiction
The Truth Behind Netflix Griselda: What’s Real and What’s Fiction, image by Netflix

By her mid-20s, she was deeply involved with smuggling marijuana and cocaine to the U.S. Griselda pioneered creative techniques like hiding two kilos of coke in her girdle to get through airport security. She was also tied to the inception of sophisticated cocaine processing labs in Colombia and establishment of major smuggling routes into American metro areas well before the timeline presented in the show.

“No woman is okay with this and then when you least suspect it we make you pay.” *– Griselda Blanco, Griselda (TV series)*

The Two Murders That Launched Her Criminal Career

We’re first introduced to Griselda just after she has murdered her second husband, Alberto Bravo, and fled to the U.S. This checks out; she did fatally shoot Bravo in a parking lot in Colombia in 1975 before heading to the States. And while *Griselda* shows her killing him over his demand she sleep with his brother, her actual motives remain murky, with some claiming it was a drug deal gone bad.  

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Griselda later had her first husband, Carlos Trujillo, killed in Colombia after their divorce while she lived in New York and Miami. She directed the hit from afar in 1978 and was reportedly incensed that he had gained custody of their three young sons. Griselda’s recruitment of hitmen to execute these two men, both father to her children, earned her the infamous moniker “The Black Widow.”

Getting a Foothold in Miami’s Drug Scene

The series accurately depicts Griselda resettling in Miami with her boys in the late 1970s under assumed identities and describes her drive to rebuild a drug empire as a lone woman in the ruthless, male-dominated Medellín cartel ecosystem. 

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Griselda capitalized on her assets and cunning to overcome sexism and leverage her way to the top. She peddled cocaine to well-off whites at Miami discos using alluring female mules while also setting up a lucrative money laundering scheme under the guise of a lingerie company. 

These events closely follow Griselda’s actual strategies for infiltrating and conquering Florida’s emerging cocaine market to birth her own “Cartel de Los Muchachos” (Cartel of the Boys).

Escobar and Other Kingpin Connections 

Pablo Escobar’s immense wealth and power dominates the storyline early on in *Griselda*, alluding to links between the two without much exploration. Most historians agree Griselda likely worked with Escobar indirectly via the Medellín cartel network, but direct ties are speculative despite rumors. Some accounts contend a young Escobar even learned the cocaine trade from Griselda or they possibly had a love affair, while other reports depict them as bitter rivals – neither well substantiated.

Griselda did undoubtedly partner with the likes of Rafael Cardona Salazar, her connection with the Bogotá based Boss of the D’Cartel de Cali, Helmer “Pacho” Herrera, also appears factual. It was primarily these strategic alliances and her relationship plotting that enabled Griselda to take over Miami’s coke market by the early 1980s.

The Truth Behind Netflix Griselda: What’s Real and What’s Fiction
Pablo Escobar’s immense wealth and power dominates the storyline early on in *Griselda*, alluding to links between the two without much exploration.

The Godmother’s Bloody Reign Over Miami 

*Griselda* accurately conveys the extreme violence and terror Blanco unleashed on South Florida to become Miami’s top female crime lord by the late 70s into the 80s. Her willingness to order torture and assassination at the slightest suspicion of betrayal or defection kept her cartel loyal and rivals at bay. 

The bodies piled up as Griselda consolidated power. While she wasn’t likely present for the graphic, theatrical murders shown in the series, she almost certainly greenlit numerous bombings, shootings, stabbings, and dismemberments during Miami’s “Cocaine Cowboy Wars” era. Most experts have her tied to at least 40 killings. 

Griselda’s temper and paranoia ultimately created her undoing, however. The show nails the turning point as the 1979 drive-by murder of her close friend Martha Ochoa. Griselda had lent her millions and the motive appeared to be avoiding repayment rather than any romantic spat as *Griselda* suggests.

Taking a Fall But Never Giving Up

The heat on Griselda’s cartel ramped up through the 1980s from both rival gangs and increased DEA surveillance. After a disastrous kidnapping attempt that left 4 Miami-Dade officers dead in 1981, the LAPD arrested Griselda in 1985 on cocaine trafficking charges thanks to insider tips on her dealings. 

Despite getting a lengthy 20-years-to-life sentence, cut down to just 13 years after flipping on former associates, Griselda still schemed to rebuild her empire while locked up. She even hatched a foiled plot to kidnap John F. Kennedy Jr. for ransom in the 1990s.

In the end it wasn’t law enforcement that took Griselda out but her own dubious past catching up with her. Right after deportation back to Colombia in 2004, the infamous queenpin met her untimely end from an assassin’s bullet while grocery shopping just as shown in the finale. Her murder remains unsolved.

The Truth Behind Netflix Griselda: What’s Real and What’s Fiction
The Truth Behind Netflix Griselda: What’s Real and What’s Fiction, image by Netflix

*Griselda*

So how accurately does *Griselda* deliver the twisting highs and tragic lows of Miami’s deadliest female narco legend? While obviously glamorized, filled with reimaginings, and much nuance left out, the series remarkably captures Griselda Blanco’s ferocity and cunning in pioneering her way to the top of the cocaine world, including plenty of the horrific violence that enabled and ultimately ended her fearsome reign.   

The show also exposes how endemic misogyny and jealousy over her successes from rival male gang members to law enforcement fueled extreme efforts to sabotage Griselda at every turn. So despite fictionalized elements weaved in for entertainment value, *Griselda* shines a perceptive light on the formidable feminist antihero who refused to be defined by machismo attitudes and aggressive intimidation campaigns that for too long kept women excluded as serious forces within inner circles of organized crime.

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