If you’ve spent any time on Netflix lately, you’ve likely noticed that mini series Griselda has been blowing up in popularity. It’s the global number one show on the platform right now, amassing some 20.6 million views this week alone. The show, which stars Sofia Vergara, tells the story of Colombian drug lord (and cocaine Godmother) Griselda Blanco and her rise to notoriety in the ’70s and ’80s. If you’re interested to know how much of this wild Griselda story is true, continue reading below – here’s everything we know about the series and the people who inspired it.
Is Griselda based on a true story?
In a word, yes. Sofía Vergara portrays Griselda Blanco on the screen in this show, and Blanco was a very real person who became well known for her violent and lucrative presence in the Miami cocaine trade.
Warning: Spoilers are obviously ahead
In the series, Blanco is given the nickname ‘La Madrina’ or The Godmother, which the real Griselda grew to be known as – along with ‘The Black Widow’ and ‘La Dama de la Mafia’.
While, of course, the TV show fictionalises elements of the story, co-creator Doug Miro spoke with Netflix’s Tudum, sharing that “it’s really important to me how many scenes are actually true and how much truth exists in the show.”
Eric Newman, another co-creator of the show, added that:
“Authenticity is everything to us.
“Authenticity not just in the place, but in the period and truths of the characters. Another driving force for us is finding that truth –– even when we can’t know the truth. There’s no interview you’re going to get with Griselda Blanco that tells you what she was thinking and feeling. And so creating that in the most authentic way becomes essential.”
Now, onto the facts.
Griselda Blanco’s husbands
Per Netflix, Griselda Blanco did, in fact, work with her second husband, Alberto Bravo, on transporting cocaine into New York through the early ’70s.
It is also alleged that she did kill Bravo by shooting him, however, not because her then-husband had forced her to have sex with his brother. Rather, it’s reported that Blanco suspected Bravo of stealing profits from their drug trade business, which allegedly resulted in a gunfight.
Blanco was actually under suspicion for the deaths of all three of her husbands — hence the Black Widow nickname.
Netflix shared that Griselda Blanco met her first husband (Carlos Trujillo) when she was working as a sex worker at 13. The pair shared three sons, like in the series, and they divorced in the ’60s. It’s suspected they she had him killed some years later.
Dario Sepulveda was Blanco’s third husband. Reportedly he was an assassin in real life, like in the series. It’s alleged that she had him killed in 1983 after he left for Colombia.
Speaking of family, Blanco did actually have four sons: Dixon, Osvaldo, Uber and Michael Corleone (yes, after the Godfather character). The eldest three were killed in reality, as is depicted in the show.
Griselda: Cocaine godmother
Her move to Miami and her inventive method of transporting cocaine by building it into womens’ underwear was true, and it’s also believed that the wealth she accrued sat in the billions.
Vulture reports that Blanco’s big contribution to the cocaine market in Miami was not, in fact, marketing the drug to rich white folks, but rather by implementing the technique of using motorbikes for drive-by shootings. Slight difference, there.
Griselda Blanco, in truth, was also known to be as violent as her character suggests. She may have been more coldhearted in reality, however.
As the series depicts, Blanco was responsible for the death of a two-year-old boy, Johnny Castro, the son of one of her staffers. In the series, when this child’s death occurs, Sofia Vergara’s Griselda Blanco is visibly shaken. However, as The Guardian reported at the time of Blanco’s death, Jorge Ayala, her former lieutenant, told police:
“At first she was real mad because we missed the father, but when she heard we had gotten the son by accident, she said she was glad, that they were even.”
The hit on German Panesso at Crown Liquors was also reported as true, with a Washington Post article from 1979 highlighting that Panesso “looked like Swiss Cheese” afterwards.
Netflix shares that Griselda’s reign as the cocaine godmother in Miami was plagued by her addiction and paranoia, and eventually, she was captured by the DEA in 1985. After this, and later additional murder charges, she was sentenced to three 20-year sentences.
After only a handful of those years, she was deported to Colombia (2004), and in 2011, she was killed via drive-by shooting on a motorcycle. Interestingly, she is buried in the same cemetery as Pablo Escobar.
You can read Tudum’s full write-up on the true story of Griselda Blanco here. Griselda, starring Sofia Vergara, is streaming on Netflix Australia now.
Lead Image Credit: Netflix
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