*See end of post for update with Blanco's Orange County booking photo from 1985.
ORIGINAL POST, Sept. 4, 9:41 a.m.: According to a story that broke in yesterday's Miami Herald, Griselda Blanco, the ruthless Colombian drug trafficker made famous in the documentary Cocaine Cowboys, has been assassinated in her hometown Medellin. She was reportedly walking out of a butcher's shop with a pregnant daughter-in-law when two men on a motorcycle pulled up and one of them shot her twice in the head before roaring off.
The shooting had all the hallmarks of a Colombian-style assassination, and is presumed to be in revenge for one of the perhaps 250 such killings she is believed to have personally ordered during her reign as one of the country's top crime figures. Viewers of Cocaine Cowboys as well as readers of my Sept. 2009 article on the 1986 murder of Joe Avila of the Avila's El Ranchito restaurant clan may recall that Blanco lived for a time in Newport Beach during the 1980s when the town was a haven for mob figures and a locale for coke-fueled parties.
The era marked the end of Blanco's days as a bloodthirsty cartel maven,
as the cops arrested her on outstanding warrants from Florida; she remained behind bars until 2004, when she was deported to Colombia. She went out yesterday much the same way as her rumored friend and paramour Avila did in his day.
Besides his restaurant business, Avila was a known trafficker with many enemies. He was found dead inside his sportscar, which had been riddled with bullets, and as if to answer any lingering doubts, a motorcycle was left at the scene. While Avila's murder remains unsolved, it is Blanco who is credited with inventing the concept of the motorcycle assassination, according to the Herald.
UPDATE: There's a fantastic remembrance of Blanco that went online yesterday in Vice magazine, “Griselda Blanco: So Long and Thanks for All the Cocaine” by Billy Corben, the director of Cocaine Cowboys and its sequel, Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustling With the Godmother. It's worth reading in its entirety, but one of best things about it is that it features Blanco's 1985 booking photo, when she was arrested in Orange County by the DEA. We were going to simply replace the original photo with this one but since readers were already commenting on her manlike appearance in said mugshot, we've updated the post instead.