Is Carmen Gutiérrez Inspired by Griselda Blanco’s Real Friend?

In Netflix’s crime drama series ‘Griselda,’ Carmen Gutiérrez is the friend who welcomes Griselda Blanco to Miami, Florida, when the latter arrives in the city after killing her husband Alberto Bravo. Without knowing Griselda’s intentions, Carmen lets her friend stay in her house. Although they part ways after Carmen learns about Griselda’s blooming drug deals, the former eventually becomes a part of it. In addition to providing fight tickets for Griselda’s drug traffickers, Carmen helps the “Godmother” buy a stash house, which then becomes the target of the authorities. Even though the show is based on Griselda’s life, the creative heads behind it took immense creative liberties to craft the drug dealer’s saga. The traces of fiction can also be seen in Carmen!

Carmen in Griselda Blanco’s Life

There are no reports that offer a window into the life of Carmen Gutiérrez. Martha Soto’s ‘La Viuda Negra,’ the biography of the “Black Widow,” doesn’t mention a friend named Carmen. However, there was a friend named Maria Gutierrez who served Griselda as her travel agent. Maria eventually became a DEA informant. Similarly, Carmen joins forces with the authorities in the series. Furthermore, there was a Carmen in Griselda’s life, who was someone who resembles the latter’s friend in Miami in the crime drama. Gilman Atehortua AKA Carmen Cabán was the sister of Amparo Atehortua AKA Gloria Cabán, who served as a trafficker for Griselda during the latter’s New York City days.

Before establishing herself as a pivotal drug trafficker in Miami in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Griselda dealt with drugs for a brief period in New York City in the early ‘70s. Carmen and Gloria were part of her “team” at the same time. “Gloria’s sister Carmen, who was in Colombia, was also recruited to become a courier. The sisters often flew directly from Bogotá to JFK Airport in New York; other times, they flew to New York from Colombia via Puerto Rico,” Elaine Carey wrote in her book ‘Women Drug Traffickers: Mules, Bosses, and Organized Crime.’

Like Carmen Gutiérrez in the Netflix series, Carmen Cabán also eventually joined the authorities to testify against Griselda. “After a number of arrests, the Cabán sisters worked closely with the DEA to build a case against Blanco,” reads Carey’s book. However, Cabán worked as a drug distributor for Griselda, which isn’t the case with Carmen in the show. “Blanco recruited and employed attractive young women to transport cocaine into the United States. […] The Cabán sisters and many other women ran stash houses and worked as mules, couriers, processors, and local transporters,” Carey added in the book.

Gloria and Carmen were arrested in 1973. Between June 25, 1985, and July 9, 1985, Griselda was tried in court. The prosecution’s case against the drug trafficker heavily relied on Carmen’s testimony. She went on to detail Griselda’s drug operations between 1972 and 1975, opening a window into the cocaine-importing ring in which Griselda was allegedly a part of. Gloria and Carmen received seven-year prison sentences. “Gilman [Carmen] initially told her sister that she planned to cooperate with the police because she had children whom she wished to see. As Blanco’s attorney Nathan Diamond demonstrated, Amparo and Gilman appeared to be paid informants who had offered assistance because of their involvement in drugs through the early 1970s,” Carey wrote about Carmen’s fate and credibility.

Carmen Gutiérrez can be seen as a combination of Maria Gutierrez and Carmen Cabán. Co-creator Eric Newman and director Andrés Baiz admitted that the series is heavily fictionalized, which raises questions concerning the authenticity of Carmen in the crime drama. Still, she is an integral part of the show’s narrative. Through Carmen, the show depicts how Griselda embraces her friends closer to her heart without forgetting them when she becomes the Godmother of Miami’s drug scene.

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