Inside a Dunkin’ Donuts in Miami Beach, a 33-year-old Columbian named Nariz waited nervously for the arrival of someone he had met just recently. The two had made arrangements to do a cocaine deal worth about $100,000. Nariz was to purchase five kilos with a combination of cash, the title to a motorcycle, and a garish gold necklace with a pendant bearing the initials K.A.R., an abbreviation for the phrase “Kill All Rats”.
Unfortunately for him, the deal was a setup. His contact had notified the Sunrise Police Department that Nariz wanted to score 10 to 20 kilos. The vice squad had been watching him for two months and now there were two DEA investigators sitting at a nearby table.
Meanwhile, a friend of Nariz – Abel Fernandez – was meeting with an undercover officer posing as the dealer’s partner. When notified by Nariz that the “dealer” had arrived at the coffee shop, Fernandez swapped the money, title and gold chain for a bag containing the coke.
The takedown signal was given. Fernandez was taken into custody. As he was being cuffed, Michael Corleone Blanco, AKA “Nariz,” must have had one thought on his mind: “My mother’s going to kill me.”
Born in Medellín, he had spent most of his life watching Griselda Blanco build and solidify her reputation as the ruthless “Godmother of Cocaine.”
She was an obsessive fan of the Godfather films and named her fourth son after the heir apparent to the Vito Corleone criminal empire.
Dubbed “La Madrina” by other traffickers and law enforcement, she oversaw a billion-dollar criminal enterprise that moved about 3,400 pounds of cocaine a month in the United States. She ran the business with her family, using her three oldest sons to satisfy the demand in Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco in the early days of the drug war. The DEA estimated that she had some 600 people on her payroll.
But Griselda’s plan for a family dynasty fell apart. Michael’s father and older siblings were all killed before he reached adulthood, and she herself was arrested in 1985. With his mother in prison for most of his childhood and teenage years, he was raised mostly by his maternal grandmother and legal guardians.
“La Madrina” was accused of ordering at least 40 homicides from Miami to New York, but it’s quite possible that the actual total exceeds 250. She spent nearly two decades behind bars in the United States and was then deported to Colombia.
In September of 2012, according to local press reports, two gunmen on motorcycles pulled up to her as she walked out of a butcher shop in her hometown. One man pumped two bullets into her head. It was the kind of end many had predicted she would meet, and in a way it was ironic. “La Madrina” has been credited with creating the concept of the “motorcycle assassin.”
Michael Corleone Blanco keeps a low profile these days, but he’s a staunch guardian of his mother’s reputation.
In 2008, he was quoted as saying, “I think they don’t show her as people see a mother. You got to understand, she is my mother. She is the mother of four men and she is the godmother of hundreds of boys. She is the godmother of an entire neighborhood from 1972 on up and that’s why they call her ‘La Madrina’. She has always been a mother figure. They only show one side of this lady. They don’t show the side of the lady that had to feed her children or that slept with her boy every night or making sure her boys get a college education. They never show the lady who would wake up every morning and make breakfast with her maid. It’s really easy to make her the villain. She’s a good old lady.”