June 7, 2004
Cocaine ‘Godmother’ Released From Prison
MIAMI - A 61-year-old woman known as "The Godmother" whom police said ran a ruthless cocaine empire in the 1980s was released from prison and set to be deported to Colombia.
Griselda Blanco was in custody of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Sunday as U.S. and Colombian officials arranged her travel, bureau spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said. Gonzalez said she could not comment on when Blanco would be deported, citing security procedures.
Blanco was turned over to federal immigration officials Wednesday by Florida corrections officers.
Blanco had been serving three concurrent 20-year sentences after pleading no contest in 1998 to second-degree murder charges. Authorities said Blanco arranged three contract killings in 1982 that took the lives of toddler Johnny Castro, 2, and drug dealers Alfredo and Grizel Lorenzo.
The child died when bullets meant for his father, Jesus Castro, hit the boy instead, police said.
Blanco already had been serving prison time for cocaine trafficking when she entered her plea in the killings. She only had to serve about one-third of the sentence because of guidelines in effect at the time of the shootings.
Blanco, who was known for her love of shopping and beauty salons, is described by authorities as a charter member of the "cocaine cowboys" who engaged in drug trafficking, contract killings and gangland shootouts in the 1980s.
"If she owed you money she'd kill ya, and if you owed her money she'd kill ya," said Nelson Andreu, a retired Miami police homicide detective who investigated Blanco.
Blanco was reportedly a fan of the film "The Godfather," naming one of her sons Michael Corleone, apparently after the character played by Al Pacino in the film.
Nathan Diamond, Blanco's defense attorney, declined to say where she planned to go after returning to Colombia, but said she had been in communication with family members.
"There are no charges pending against her there, so certainly she would be free to live her life in Colombia," Diamond told The Miami Herald.
Andreu said three of Blanco's four sons went back to Colombia after serving U.S. prison sentences and were assassinated.
"She could be in the cocaine business by Tuesday, she could be dead by Tuesday," agent Joe Kilmer of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Miami office said.
"When you live by the sword, you die by the sword. She's one of the most ruthless people we ever encountered in South Florida," Kilmer said.
Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com