Sofía Vergara has been able to mesmerise audiences once again with her portrayal of the notorious cartel leader Griselda Blanco, often dubbed as the ‘Godmother of Cocaine’. However, the limited Netflix series Griselda is heavily fictionalised and tells an underdog story, whereas the real Blanco, by all accounts, was far more ruthless and psychopathic.
After premiering on January 25th, 2024, Griselda is currently the number-one series on Netflix globally, with a staggering 113.8 million hours viewed in its first week. This biographical crime drama miniseries, directed by Andrés Baiz and produced by Eric Newman and Vergara, delves into the life of the notorious Colombian drug lord.
Despite all the blood-crudling stories floating around about Blanco—one of which claims that she was only 11 when she murdered someone after kidnapping them—the showmakers had to rely on their imaginations to fill in the gaps. Newman told Tudum, “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.”
If Griselda has also left you wondering how much of it was true and how much was fictionalised for the sake of palatability, read on to find out.
Did Griselda come to Miami with no money?
In the series, we are introduced to Vergara’s Griselda fleeing Medellín in the middle of the night after an altercation with her second husband, Alberto Bravo. She shoots him after he forces her to sleep with his brother to settle his debt and leaves with a kilo of cocaine and a bag full of dreams.
The portrayal of Griselda’s arrival in Miami with no money is a dramatic touch in the series. In reality, Blanco did not arrive in the US penniless. Blanco was already one of the lynchpins in the Colombian drug trade and was reportedly worth $2billion before she died in 2012.
Was Griselda the first cartel boss to use women as drug mules?
In Griselda, we see Blanco using sex workers as drug mules. The women came to America with bras stuffed with cocaine, as one does, for the dime and the dreams Blanco offered.
It is indeed true that one of Blanco’s claims to fame was her pioneering use of women as drug mules. The show accurately depicts this as Blanco realised women were always deemed less suspicious due to societal expectations and law enforcement biases. Griselda’s innovation in smuggling drugs, initially in New York City and later in Miami, set a precedent that echoed through the drug trade.
Did Griselda really kill all her husbands?
Blanco is famously dubbed the ‘Black Widow’ for allegedly murdering her three husbands. She had three husbands—Carlos Trujillo, Alberto Bravo, and Darío Sepúlveda.
In the series, she is seen killing Alberto and ordering Darío’s assassination after he took away their youngest son. Carlos is not shown in the series, as he died before the events depicted in Griselda. However, it is speculated that she had Carlos killed as well. They had a marijuana-dealing enterprise in Colombia. Blanco was never convicted for any of her husbands’ deaths.
Is June Hawkins a real person?
Detective June Hawkins-Singleton, portrayed by Juliana Aidén Martinez in the series, is indeed a real person who is still alive. She was one of the first female police officers in Miami, and Hawkins-Singleton served as a consultant for the series.
She was a trailblazing figure in the Miami Police Department during the height of the cocaine wars. Hawkins-Singleton faced harassment and discrimination, as the show accurately depicts. In real life, Hawkins married Al Singleton, a character portrayed on the show by Carter MacIntyre.
What happened to Griselda’s sons?
Blanco had four sons—Dixon, Uber, Osvaldo, and Michael—as is depicted in Griselda. Blanco named one of her sons, Michael Corleone, after the iconic crime boss in The Godfather.
Dixon was shot while walking to his car. Ozzy was gunned down in a nightclub, and Uber was killed during a drug deal. Blanco’s son with Darío, Michael, is the only one who still survives. Michael recently sued Netflix for making Griselda and using his stories and likeness without compensating him,
Blanco met a gruesome end in 2012, assassinated by motorcycle-riding gunmen outside a butcher shop in Medellín. Incidentally, Blanco is also credited with inventing drive-by shootings—another innovator perished at the altar of her own creation. She is buried in Jardines Montesacro cemetery, which is the final resting place of another infamous cartel chief, Pablo Escobar.
You can watch Griselda on Netflix and catch the trailer here: