Netflix’s biographical series ‘Griselda’ begins with a quote allegedly from Pablo Escobar, “The only man I was ever afraid of was a woman named Griselda Blanco.” The authenticity of the quote is uncertain, just like the rumors that have been spreading around concerning Griselda Blanco and Escobar over the years. They both have unignorable connections. Griselda grew up and eventually died in the Colombian city of Medellín, which was the headquarters of Escobar’s Medellín Cartel. They reportedly worked with the same people. But what was the nature of their relationship, if any existed beyond legends and speculations?
Griselda and Escobar’s Relationship
First of all, Pablo Escobar seemingly knew Griselda Blanco. The Escobars were even inspired by what Griselda achieved as a drug trafficker. “There was no such thing then as a drug cartel, instead there were just some people who were bigger in the business. One of the most successful and most ruthless was a woman from Medellín that everybody knew about named Griselda Blanco,” Escobar’s brother Roberto Escobar wrote in his book ‘The Accountant’s Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellin Cartel.’ “Eventually she had moved to the United States and ran her business in Miami. So, it took almost nothing to get started in the business except some money and some guts, and the chances of rewards were high,” he added.
Hugo Clark, who wrote the biography ‘The Black Widow: The Life and Crimes of Griselda Blanco, America’s First Billionaire Drug Smuggler,’ identifies Escobar as Griselda’s “successor,” “one-time friend,” and “apprentice.” Clark’s book confirms that the two of them were not unfamiliar with each other. According to the author, they “most likely met sometime in the early 1970s,” before Escobar became an infamous drug lord. However, Griselda, at the time, was a highly successful drug trafficker in New York. Clark’s work states that there is possibly truth in the rumors that have been circulating regarding them.
“Some accounts claim that Griselda was the one who introduced Escobar to the cocaine trade, which would make him obscenely rich by the 1980s, and also served as his mentor and close friend. He was even known to frequently attend many of Griselda’s famous parties at her luxurious Miami Beach home. Others argue that the two were actually bitter enemies operating rival crews. It is very likely that both of these are true at the same time and that the pair were amicable at first, but grew to compete with each other as the younger upstart Escobar’s ambition began to grow, even exceeding that of the Godmother,” Clark wrote in his book.
There are also rumors that state that both Griselda and Escobar had a romantic relationship. Clark acknowledged it as well in his biography of the “Godmother.” “It’s also been suggested that the two had begun a romantic relationship early on, which would be entirely unsurprising given Griselda’s history of taking younger lovers. Before the late 1970s, to use a Mafia term, Griselda was the ‘boss of bosses,’ while Pablo was still a young go-getter looking to seize more power and make a name for himself,” the book further reads.
Another connection between Griselda and Escobar is Carlos Lehder, one of the other founders of the Medellín Cartel. He had a cocaine transport hub on Norman’s Cay in the Bahamas, around 200 miles off the Florida coast. According to Guy Gugliotta and Jeff Leen’s ‘Kings of Cocaine: Inside the Medellín Cartel – An Astonishing True Story of Murder, Money and International Corruption,’ both Griselda and Escobar were clients of Lehder. “Lehder’s pipeline soon served a wide variety of clients, from the gringos who worked as Lehder’s distributors to Colombians who merely used Lehder’s transport service. Among the latter were Griselda Blanco, Pablo Escobar, and Jorge Ochoa,” reads the book.