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Murder, drugs, sex and Griselda: The true story behind Sophia Vergara's grisly new Netflix show

Netflix's latest must-watch is the chilling real-life tale of crime maven Griselda Blanco.

True-crime junkies, prepare for a riveting dive into the ruthless world of Griselda Blanco, the notorious Black Widow of the drug trade, as Netflix drops a gripping six-episode miniseries on January 25.

Starring the talented Sofia Vergara, this explosive series, helmed by Eric Newman of Narcos fame, Griselda promises an unflinching look into the life of a woman who became synonymous with America's most venomous spider.

Sophia Vergara in a scene from her new Netflix show.
Sophia Vergara stars in Netflix's gritty expose on the notorious Griselda Blanco. Photo: Netflix

The true story behind Griselda

Blanco's life reads like a crime thriller. From her humble beginnings in poverty-stricken Colombia to orchestrating 250 murders and amassing a staggering $80 million a month in late '70s and '80s Miami, her journey is one of audacity and cunning.

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The new Netflix series, with its global audience reach, is set to immortalise her grim tale in the annals of true crime.

Griselda's early years

Born into adversity, Blanco's early years saw her navigating a world of crime, forging documents, and, as some reports suggest, engaging in sex work to survive (an accusation she denied).

By the time she reached the US, she had already kidnapped and shot a young boy, setting the stage for a life marked by brutality and crime.

Griselda Blanco pictured.
Griselda Blanco, pictured here, also known as the 'Godmother of Cocaine', was a notorious figure in drug trafficking. Photo: artofit.com

Later in life, Blanco married and welcomed three children into her world. By 1964, she had settled in Queens, divorcing her first husband before the early seventies.

This pivotal period saw her crossing paths with her subsequent partner, the notorious drug trafficker Alberto Bravo. Sadly, for her first husband, the divorce was not final enough for Blanco. Numerous reports indicate that she orchestrated his assassination several years down the road.

Griselda Blanco's Cocaine Kingdom

Alongside her second husband, drug trafficker Alberto Bravo, Blanco entered the cocaine trade, designing ingenious ways to smuggle the illicit substance. Their formidable partnership thrived on sheer audacity and cruelty, forming the basis of Blanco's lucrative empire. As her wealth grew, so did the violence surrounding her, earning her the monikers "Black Widow" and "Cocaine Godmother".

Her business skyrocketed, and the cash poured in. By 1975, not only was she facing federal drug charges, but so were 30 of her accomplices. To evade the relentless pursuit of the feds, she made a strategic move back to Colombia.

 Sofia Vergara as Griselda Blanco in a still from the show.
Griselda Blanco earned nicknames like "Black Widow" and "Cocaine Godmother" for her involvement in drug trafficking. Photo: Netflix

Blanco's intelligence shone through as she effortlessly altered her appearance, delegated illicit dealings, and manage to vanished on a whim. In the same year, a heated dispute over money culminated in a brutal altercation with Bravo, ultimately leading to his demise, leaving Blanco with two dead husbands in her wake.

Griselda Blanco's $80m a month lifestyle

Blanco's story spirals deeper in a series of dark twists with betrayals, assassinations, and a lavish lifestyle fuelled by a three-tonne cocaine empire. Miami, in the grips of the Cocaine Cowboy Wars, witnessed unprecedented violence, making Blanco a central figure in one of its darkest periods.

Blanco, with her cunning and ferocity, reached the pinnacle of extravagance. During her zenith, she embraced a lavish lifestyle, hosting hedonistic gatherings teeming with sex and drugs. From her annual three-tonne cocaine imports, she amassed a staggering $80 million a month. Blanco even named her fourth child Michael Corleone, an ode to the fictional Italian gangster portrayed by Al Pacino in The Godfather.

"Griselda loved killings. Bodies lined the streets of Miami as a result of her feuds," said America's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in an internal magazine in 1993, eight years after finally tracking her down. "She not only killed rivals and wayward lovers, but used murder as a means of cancelling debts she didn’t want to pay."

Did Griselda Blanco ever get caught?

Even with family ties in her illicit enterprise, Blanco's high-stakes game alongside her grown-up sons Uber, Dixon, and Osvaldo eventually reached a tipping point.

As informants skilfully infiltrated her inner circle, Blanco's once meticulous operations started to unravel. Battling sleepless nights, she sought refuge in California in 1984, driven by the haunting fears of both assassination and imminent arrest.

Blanco's apprehensions were well-founded; just a year later, the DEA captured her and slapped her with charges of conspiracy to manufacture, import, and distribute cocaine. In 1994, she faced a triple murder charge. However, a mix of plea bargaining and health issues led to a commuted sentence, granting her release in 2004. Deported back to Colombia, Blanco seemingly embraced a regular life.

Sofia Vergara wields a bat in a still from her new show.
In 1985, the DEA captured Blanco, charging her with conspiracies to manufacture, import, and distribute cocaine. Photo: Netflix

Yet, the twists in her tale continued. During her nearly two decades behind bars, tragedy struck as Uber, Dixon, and Osvaldo, her three sons, met untimely ends. In 2012, Blanco encountered the same fate she once feared. While leaving a butcher shop in Medellín, she was ruthlessly shot twice by a hitman on a motorbike, bringing a dramatic and final chapter to her tumultuous life.

Now, her extraordinary life is laid bare in a gritty new series starring Sofía Vergara. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Vergara revealed her deep dive into Blanco's psyche: "There are so many nuances to explore in terms of who she was as a drug lord and, of course, as a woman, as a mother. She was someone who did whatever it took to protect her family."

Griselda will premiere on Netflix on January 25.

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