Cocaine Cowgirl

The life and violent times of Griselda Blanco, Pablo Escobar’s feared rival and the most notorious, murderous queen-pin of the Colombian drug wars.

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  1. A Bullet for La Tía

    Griselda Blanco de Trujillo, in a plain white dress, with a rosary in her hand and a hole in her head, was laid to rest in the Jardines Montesacro, a posh cemetery on the southwestern extreme of Medellín.

    She was buried in a gold-finished coffin with a domed lid. Eight tough-looking young men, wearing sneakers, jeans, and sunglasses, carried it from the chapel to the grave site on their shoulders.

    Reporters had gathered to witness the end of La Madrina—“the Godmother”—as the Medellín newspapers had been calling Griselda since the 1970s. But they were warned, brusquely, not to approach closely or photograph the scene, even from a distance. They could only stand and marvel at the strange theatrics they were seeing. Some of the boys banged violently on the coffin, others smoked marijuana, and mourners cried “No te vayas, Tía!” and “La buena, Tía!” while a group of mariachis played and sang.

    The mourners had arrived in buses from Barrio Antioquia, the neighborhood where Griselda grew up, which remains a stubborn hive of vice and misery in a rapidly pacifying, revitalizing city. They departed at dusk, leaving the grounds littered with their empty bottles of aguardiente, Colombia’s ubiquitous anise liquor. Some three hundred feet away, in a lush family grave ringed by green marble and shaded by palms, lay Griselda’s onetime friend and apprentice—and eventual mortal enemy—Pablo Escobar.


    “Who Killed Griselda?” Q’hubo, Medellín’s trashy tabloid of record, demanded to know, but ...

Originally published in September 2013