February 7, 1997, an international fugitive, who had undergone extensive
plastic surgery, stepped off a plane in the Rio de Janeiro Airport, preparing
to don a real mask to participate in "Carnival". The fugitive, age 44,
carried 13 passports and a ledger book containing the names of cocaine-trafficking
clients, and was immediately arrested by a bevy of Brazilian police and
federal agents on the tarmac. This arrest, and the subsequent extradition
of the fugitive to N.Y.C. by U.S. Marshals on April 20, 1998, represented
more than a victory for persistent law enforcement officials. The fugitive's
name was Mery Valencia, her nickname was "La Senora", and she was one
of the pre-eminent international cocaine traffickers in the formerly male-dominated
Cali cartel. The scope of her operation, which had begun in 1986, involved
multiple millions of dollars and over 25 tons of cocaine, which were shipped
from Colombia to the United States via Puerto Rico, and then trans-shipped
to NY, NJ, IL, FL, OH and CA. On the same day that she was arrested in
Brazil, her arrest being the culmination of a two-year Drug Enforcement
Administration investigation, 56 other members of the drug organization
were either indicted or arrested in America. Those raids netted over 320
kilos of cocaine and $20 million in cash. Valencia's April, 1998 extradition
to NYC was due to the persistence of NYC / US Attorney Mary Jo White.
While the Brazilian authorities had remained adamant that policy prevented
them from extraditing her for being a narcotics trafficker, they finally
relented when White insisted that she be returned to the US to be arrested
on money-laundering charges. Valenica faced numerous federal narcotics-trafficking
related charges. On December 16th, 1999, Mery Valencia was sentenced to
life in prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine by Judge Kimba Wood,
who represented the Southern District of the State of New York. Wood was
President Clinton's original pick for US Attorney General, before the
debatable "Nanny-Scam" revelations. In her trial, Judge Wood determined
that Valenica distributed more than 12,000 kilograms of cocaine worth
more than $180 million (wholesale) during the late eighties, and again
in 1997 and 1998, prior to her arrest. The Valencia Organization controlled
a series of "stash houses" in Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, and also ingeniously
supplied the residents of NYC by working with a Dominican crack-dealing
Just as remarkable as the fact that
this operation was headed by a woman is the fact that all of Valencia's
top lieutenants were also female. Included were her sister, Luz Dary Valenica-Castrillon,
who is allegedly overseeing money-laundering operations from Colombia;
another sister, Alba Valencia, sister-in-law Ana Maria Valencia; ex-sister-in-law
Josephine Valencia and first cousin Flor Alban Castano. Josephine and
Flor each employed their two daughters, as did a non-relative, Maria Teresa
Serna (also a mother of two girls), giving new meaning to the concept
of "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day".
Not especially pretty or sexy, Valencia's
personality has been described by the press as "severe". She has been
dubbed a "behind-the-scenes taskmaster", demanding an exact accounting
for every ounce of coke sold, "a bean-counting boss who made her own sister
pay up for losses due to bounced checks." Apparently, she even intimidated
the male members of her organization, one of whom was heard saying on
a wire-tapped phone conversation that he "would never do anything without
La Senora's permission." This same employee was instrumental in Valencia's
Brazilian arrest, when he inadvertently tipped off the feds by urging
fellow employees "to call La Senora, because La Senora was going to leave
soon for Carnival." It was at that point that federal agents, unable to
locate her themselves, notified the Brazilian authorities to anticipate
a special new guest who would be arriving to attend the world's biggest
party. Mery Valencia was not the only female in her organization who could
appear harsh. The same hapless male employee was later chastised by a
woman colleague who told him that he "had better close his mouth and start
doing things right, because if not, they were going to end up in a hole..."
like Mery, who was "in a world of shit".
La Senora had been sporadically under
federal surveillance since 1989, after one of her stash houses was busted
in Long Beach, CA. However, she had not been physically present at the
bust, and she successfully evaded the cops. She was so crafty, well-organized
and elusive that she didn't become the target of a federal probe until
confidential informants were successfully able to infiltrate her huge
family-run organization in 1995. Dubbed "Operation Merry-Go-Round" by
D.E.A. agents in NY and Miami, FL, who also worked with the F.B.I., the
use of wiretap surveillance was critical to the investigation. The informants
also discovered, through their daily activities, that there was extensive
use of offshore bank accounts, wire transmittals and bulk shipping to
get the cash out of the US and into Colombia. Between 1995 and 1997, $6.7
million was laundered...but she was formally charged with having earned
$50 million in illegal profits. Amounts of $100,000 in US cash currency
had twice been intercepted. And street surveillance of drug pick-ups always
led back to the Mery Valencia Organization.
One might wonder why Valencia used
so many "G.I. Janes" in her operation. Law enforcement experts insist
that she was simply carrying on the Colombian tradition of using family
members and associates from her hometown, which was Santa Rosa de Cabal...a
suburb of Peirrera. However, it appears that her female relatives attained
more stature and power than did the males. Perhaps Valencia felt that
women were more compliant, less threatening, and easier to control. They
certainly inspired her loyalty. In any event, the Valencia Organization
fulfilled one female stereotype--it was non-violent. Her indictment, atypically,
included no murder charges, just a single firearms charge of a gun being
discharged by a male employee in a drug transaction.
The 46th defendant to be convicted
in this investigation, Valencia also reveled in "an affluent lifestyle
as a result of the profits generated from her cocaine-trafficking activities...the
evidence showed that she enjoyed extensive foreign travel and owned several
apartments and country homes in Colombia; a discotheque called 'Back Streets'
in her home town of Santa Rosa, Colombia; and a health and beauty aids
store called 'Beverly Hills' in Cali, Colombia."
Not since the late 1970's, when Medellin
Cartel trafficker Griselda Blanco earned multiple millions through her
entrepreneurial brilliance has one woman attained so much power and profit
in the notoriously sexist world of the drug cartels.
It is a mantra among law enforcement
officials that when it comes to crime, whenever a vacuum opens up, it
is immediately filled. In this case, that vacuum was created by the murder
and arrest of all but five of the top leaders of the Cali cartel, and
the almost complete dissolution of the Medellin cartel. There currently
remain five or six main narcotics-trafficking groups situated in Cali's
According to some law-enforcement
experts, women's prominence in the drug trade has been consistently undervalued.
Women have been working as mules, stash-house guards, secretaries and
money-lauderers since the 1970's. Now, they're ready to obtain "power
in the powder room".
Some women are attracted to drug-dealing
to support their own habits, or to make money through criminal means.
Some get involved with men who they discover are "in the business". Naturally,
some are coerced by their spouses or lovers. But when it comes to the
Colombians, there is almost always a family connection. And many women,
like Mery Valencia, want to be the boss.
NYC Detective Frank Puello, an expert
in Latino drug traffickers, has spent years trying to convince his colleagues
that women are actually superior criminals.
"Women have been into crime since
forever, but this has been downplayed by chauvinistic law enforcement
and media reporters who don't give them the attention they deserve," Puello
"Men always try to utilize women to
assist them in low-level capacities, not knowing that the women are building
a niche because they're smarter than men, they have more organizational
attributes, and they are more adept than men at insulating themselves.
Crime organizations run by women are tighter, harder to detect, and less
likely to be infiltrated. This may sound sexist, but I think that women
are better at creating organizations because they are raised to be mothers.
What is a family but a tightly-organized, well-oiled machine...and who
really wields the power? My prediction is that eventually women will take
over drug-dealing, and that there will be more harmony and less violence
between big-level drug-dealers."
Puello's theory about motherhood was
articulated by two male drug dealers the day after Valencia's extradition,
when D.E.A. intercepted them bemoaning the fact that "Our mother is down
Other law enforcement officials believe
that women will take over the Cali Mafia because it has always been "less
sexist" than Medellin's. "Women are good for spending money, not for making
it," and, "Whenever a deal goes bad, there's a bitch involved," are two
traditional Medellin sayings.
Another D.E.A. Agent says, "When you
think of drug-trafficking, everyone thinks of men, but at least 25% of
D.E.A. arrests have been women. They range from independent traffickers
to wholesale distributors of cocaine and heroin. They have been around
for ten to fifteen years and are just as successful as the men.
"Colombians from Cali are super-professional.
While Pablo Escobar's hit team was killing judges, cops, journalists and
blowing up airlines, Cali people were quietly supporting politicians,
paying off police, and gradually gaining control of the city. Time and
time again, deals have been made with Cali women in high-level positions.
They make deliveries, negotiate, launder money, even head up organizations."
According to legendary D.E.A. Agent
Bill Mockler, "Cali women are the most active drug traffickers in history.
Hispanic culture may be sexist, but many females are very dominant. They're
smarter than some of the men in the business and more of them tend to
be bilingual. The machismo bravado thing is obvious, but the one pulling
the strings is the woman who has the brains. In Hispanic groups, women
play a key role, much more than they ever played in the drug business.
And they get all their relatives involved. With the Mafia, women and business
were kept separate. The women took care of the kids. Before the Colombians
entered the action, organized crime guys did not utilize women."
Prior to the arrest of Mery Valencia,
one of the highest-level female Cali traffickers was Maria Amanda Jimenez.
Jimenez was arrested in NJ and then arraigned and brought to New York
City on April 27, 1995. Jimenez's organization of a dozen employees moved
cocaine and heroin from New Orleans to NYC to Detroit for distribution.
They would then coordinate the collection of drug proceeds for their eventual
planned return to Colombia.
Cali-born Maria Jimenez, now in her
forties, was targeted by the Detroit branch of the Drug Enforcement Administration
in the mid 1980's. Agents in that city had stopped her on a number of
occasions because they had information that she was laundering money,
but they had insufficient information to make an arrest. Jimenez had fallen
under suspicion because her first husband, a Colombian national, was being
investigated for drug trafficking. In 1988, her husband fled to Colombia,
and Jimenez married another Colombian man in Detroit. Although there is
no evidence that her second husband was involved in criminal activity,
he did introduce Jimenez to Willie Franklin, the head of an extremely
violent American Black Detroit-based coke and heroin distribution ring.
Through her network of Colombian suppliers, Jimenez sold cocaine and heroin
to Franklin. One of her main suppliers was her new brother-in-law, Julio
Guerrero, nicknamed "The Doctor" because he worked as a technician
in the Microbiology Lab of N.Y.C.'s prestigious Cornell Medical Center.
Guerrero was ultimately arrested, but he made bail and fled to Colombia,
where the US Marshals are searching for him.
In 1992, Jimenez left Detroit and
was assumed to be living in FL. Of all the female cocaine queenpins targeted
by D.E.A., Jimenez was deemed to be the most peripatetic, constantly moving
from Detroit to Miami to Chicago and eventually to NYC (although she also
maintained a residence in nearby Cliffside, NJ). After learning that Jimenez
was active in NYC, and was laundering huge quantities of drug dollars
in Queens, NY, D.E.A. identified her as a major trafficker and placed
her under surveillance in 1994. They obtained authorization to do a wiretap
on all of her phones. It was a wiretap on one of her cell phones that
yielded information that led to busts on April 26th, 27th and 28th, 1995
by NY and NJ / D.E.A. Agents, and NJ State Police. The agents seized 398
kilogram packages of cocaine from a tractor-trailer; $1.2 million in a
stashhouse, and an additional $88,000 in cash and a .44 Magnum revolver
at Jimenez's residence. The busts also yielded Maria Jimenez, who was
arrested getting into her car...and eleven of her employees. On 12/21/95,
Jimenez pled guilty to multiple charges of narcotics trafficking and money-laundering
and was sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison. Her eleven employees
were also convicted.
According to the D.E.A. undercover
agent who worked her case, Jimenez would "play coy and cutesy" to get
the cheapest price on heroin...and she came out a winner every time. If
she found herself in a situation where she was getting strong-armed, she'd
act out a little-girl routine to the extent of actually saying, "Oh, please,
Papi!" She would whine, she would flirt, she would do whatever was necessary.
She was also an outstanding businessperson who took "excellent care" of
her employees. Secretive to a pathological degree, she would frequently
disappear for days without warning. Ever in fear of arrest, she prepared
herself for a possible hasty departure by always wearing four pairs of
underwear. On the other hand, the D.E.A. agent also says that her nature
was dichotomous, as Jimenez was "both totally relentless and very laid-back."
While husband #2 chilled out as a househusband, Jimenez acquired a Cuban
lover with whom she was frequently seen in public. Conniving, erratic,
driven yet mellow....Maria Jimenez is one of the most mysterious of the
Unlike the contradictory and paradoxical
Maria Jimenez, Daisy Zea was a more typical all-business Cali, Colombian
businessperson. She was neither attractive nor sexy, but she possessed
superb management and organizational skills, and she worshipped cold cash.
As the mistress of Cali Cartel heavyweight Jaime Orjuela, she could easily
terrorize her minions. Although she was arrested in 1992, her fate was
sealed in 1985. It was then that D.E.A. Intelligence sources were informed
that Jaime Orjuela, the recently-deceased Cali Cartel Chief Jose Santacruz
Londono's former right-hand man, was running five cocaine-processing labs
in NYC, Long Island, NY, North Carolina, and in Minden, NY.
Shortly after D.E.A. received this
intelligence, the Minden, NY Lab exploded (due to careless use of ether),
and Jaime Orjeula and many of his associates fled to Colombia, never to
return (Orjuela was eventually arrested by the Colombian police in 1994,
and he remains imprisoned in Cali.) Before that time, he had been living
with his wife, Gladys Lopez, in Bayside, Queens. In 1986, D.E.A. Intelligence
sources learned that he had murdered Lopez in Colombia and married another
woman there. However, he continued to maintain stashhouses in NYC, filled
with massive quantities of precursor chemicals for use in the remaining
labs. In 1987, D.E.A. Agents discovered mail addressed to a Daisy Zea
in one of Orjuela's stashhouses and were told by an anonymous source that
"she used to live there." It was eventually concluded that Zea had been
Orjuela's mistress. Zea's own husband was imprisoned in Texas on drug
charges. Between the years of 1986-1990, D.E.A. seized another $16 million
and 10,000 kilos of cocaine from Orjuela's organization. D.E.A. had a
particular interest in investigating those chemicals that are restricted
in Colombia but obtainable in America--such as ether, HCL, even gun-cleaning
solvent--all of which can be used to convert base cocaine--which is the
form the Colombians shipped coke in--into powder.
In October, 1991, the investigation
took a new twist when agents began investigating yet another coke lab.
Surveillance operatives were stunned to observe Daisy Zea, whom they believed
to be living in Colombia, driving up from NYC in a van to pick up chemicals
near Stewart Airport, NY for use in one of Orjuela's laboratories. The
D.E.A. Agent followed her to Meadow Street, in Brooklyn, where they learned
that Zea was in charge of running an extremely sophisticated laboratory.
They also learned that she was still involved with Orjuela, in a "long-distance
romance". Enabled by a warrant, agents broke into the Meadow St. warehouse
at 4 a.m. and installed a camera...which revealed a laboratory set up
with 10' tanks and 30 drums of chemicals capable of producing 100 kilos
of coke daily. The lab had been set up as an "engine repair shop"--which
is exactly what a casual observer would see if he opened up the garage
door. But behind the shop was the lab, complete with a huge press to make
cocaine blocks from cocaine HCL, which were sold wholesale in two kilo
Says the D.E.A. Agent who was awed
by Zea's business acumen, "That press was so professional it was phenomenal."
Zea's operation consisted of having
"ceramic" tiles, which were actually "cocaine" tiles imported through
Panama and Baltimore into a Brooklyn warehouse, "The Madison Tile Company",
which was actually a stashhouse. On a daily basis, 50 keys of crushed
tile were delivered to one of Zea's employees on a N.Y.C. streetcorner.
The tile was then driven to the Meadow Street lab to undergo the conversion
As Orjuela's mistress, Zea wielded
total control over her employees, who were said by law enforcement to
have "trembled before her authority", but she was not invulnerable. Her
chief chemist was dispatched to Cali and questioned about the fact that
their conversion process was yielding less-than-perfect results. In a
scene straight out of the movie, "Scarface", Zea's chemist was compelled
to demonstrate his methods before a suspicious group of cartel heavyweights.
It was determined that the chemist's technique was flawed (he was fired,
not killed), and Zea hired a new chemist renowned for his innovative brilliance.
Shortly thereafter, one of her workers
"made" the surveillance, and so Zea hired an all-new group of workers
to re-build a new lab from scratch several blocks away.
When intelligence sources revealed
that the process had finally become successful, D.E.A. Agents were urged
to "take down" the case. Thanks to the photographs, a wiretap on Zea's
home and a huge amount of additional accumulated intelligence information,
D.E.A. arrested Zea, her chemist, and 37 employees in July, 1992.
Says the D.E.A. Agent, "It was ironic.
It took them a long time to perfect the process--and within days of they're
perfecting it, they all got busted."
Zea was charged with setting up and
maintaining the lab, cocaine distribution, and money laundering. She pled
guilty to these narcotics trafficking charges and was sentenced to ten
years in a federal penitentiary.
As for her love affair with Orjuela,
the D.E.A. Agent says, "Zea was romantically involved with Orjuela for
five years. Was it a grand passion? I doubt it. In all candor, Zea wasn't
just unattractive, she was extremely homely. Emotionally, I would characterize
her as a typical trafficker--tough, hard and cold."
But of all the crafty, clever queenpins
who have headed up trafficking organizations, none is as fascinating as
the sociopathic Griselda Blanco. She was not only one of the first women
drug traffickers (even though she worked for Medellin), she was also one
of the first major traffickers, period. Many law enforcement experts regard
her as a twisted visionary, one of the first people to see the infinite
capabilities in building a bridge between NYC, Miami and Colombia for
the distribution of cocaine.
Blanco was a drug trafficker and
a serial killer nicknamed "The Black Widow". She killed her three husbands,
and she killed or had killed anyone she owed money to, anyone who angered
her, or anyone who got in the way of business. Sometimes, she killed just
for fun. Usually, she operated like a Mafia Don, hiring hitmen in twenty
different cities, so that she seldom "got her hands dirty" or could be
traced to the homicide.
A rape victim, abused child, prostitute,
pickpocket and street urchin, who came from the most extreme poverty in
Medellin, Griselda Blanco came to Queens in the late 60's with her lover,
and the father of three of her four sons, Carlos Trujillo. Trujillo introduced
her to Alberto Bravo, a trafficker from Medellin, and Bravo introduced
Griselda to his world. Ultimately, Bravo said something that offended
her, so she stuck the muzzle of a loaded gun into his mouth and pulled
it. (One of the first of many murders Blanco committed and has not been
charged with.) In 1971, she started her own cocaine network. She used
multiple sources of supply for her cocaine.
Always an active bi-sexual, Blanco
used only female mules, who wore lingerie Blanco had designed herself
and which were sold in her Medellin Boutique. This underwear contained
special pockets capable of concealing two kilograms of cocaine. Soon,
Blanco was grossing $8 million a month. She traveled frequently between
NYC and Miami, FL, moving south in 1978. There she assembled a group of
young assassins called "The Pisteleros." To become a member, one needed
to kill someone and cut off a body part as proof of the deed.
At that time, Roy Pena, currently
a D.E.A., Intelligence Analyst, was working with the Queens Homicide Task
Force. Suddenly, a string of unsolved murder cases came in, the only common
thread was bloodless corpses. It was eventually learned that they were
the handiwork of Paco Sepulveda, one of Griselda's premiere hired hitters.
Paco's m.o. was to hang his victims upside down, cut their throats and
drain their bodies of blood.
"This made it easier to fold the
body into Pampers or TV boxes and dump them into the street," says Pena.
"They were the most neatly-folded D.O.A.'s we'd ever come across."
In 1979, Griselda Blanco orchestrated
the infamous Dade County Shopping Mall Massacre. A van advertising party
supplies unleashed two hitmen, armed with automatic weapons, who converged
on a liquor store where Blanco had arranged to meet two drug competitors
to whom she owed a great deal of money. Her intention was to kill the
competitors and thereby eradicate her debt. Her hitmen assassinated the
two targets, and then chased two liquor store employees, who had been
witnesses, throughout the mall, pushing aside shrieking little old blue-haired
Jewish ladies and spraying bullets, "Miami Vice" style. The two witnesses
were wounded but the hitmen escaped.
After the Dade County Massacre, Miami
law enforcement officials had definitively identified Blanco as a potential
suspect--possibly the mastermind behind it. In 1981, a group called CENTAC--Central
Tactical Unit--was formed out of NYC by former D.E.A. Agent Bill Mockler
and Miami homicide detectives Al Singleton and June Hawkins, and other
law enforcement officials. Their objective: Get Griselda. They soon learned
that she had temporarily re-located to Colombia, where she owned vast
tracts of land. She began frequently moving back and forth from Colombia
to Miami. They learned, too, that her hitmen, using Paco Sepulveda's m.o.,
were traveling between NYC and Miami, committing multiple murders.
In 1982, Blanco ordered a hit on
Chucho Castro, a former employee who had angered her because he refused
to meet with her. Blanco's assassins drove up alongside Castro's van,
fired shots, and, missing Chucho, killed his toddler son, Johnny, instead.
Also, in that year, she ordered the assassination of a couple who owed
her drug money, the Lorenzos. Afterwards, Blanco was incensed that the
hit-men had left the couple's three children alive. Blanco inspired such
fear, and insulated herself so successfully, that it took 16 years for
law enforcement to find anyone willing to testify against her. Her nemesis
eventually turned out to be Riverito, her favorite hitman, who, in 1993,
facing the death penalty on various murder charges, began trading information
about Blanco for a negotiated plea of 25 years in prison.
Between 1981-1984, while CENTAC was
extremely active, Griselda Blanco, a chronic bazooka user (a highly potent,
smokable form of cocaine), smoked her way through $7 million worth of
cocaine and began slowly losing her mind. She bought Eva Peron's diamonds
and the Queen of England's tea set. She killed strippers and topless dancers
for fun, and once shot a pregnant woman in the stomach. She ripped off
her best friend for $1.8 million, and then had her tortured, beaten, shot,
wrapped in plastic and tossed into a canal. Her lover bought her an emerald
and gold encrusted MAC-10 as a Christmas present. She had frequent Lesbian
and bisexual orgies.
After twenty years of smoking bazooka,
Blanco, had grown fat and blowzy, and had resorted to forcing men to have
sex with her at gunpoint. When she reconciled with her most prolific hitman,
Jorge Ayala, a/k/a Riverito (after he had ripped off $80,000 from her
and fled to Chicago) she asked him if he would be her lover as well as
her hired gun. Riverito replied, "Griselda, I'll kill for you, but that's
where I draw the line, because everyone who fucks you ends up dead."
Eventually, she became addicted to
painkillers and tranquilizers, and her three oldest, largely illiterate
sons took over most of the trafficking (although she still supervised
their actions). Somewhere around this time, she switched her base of operations
to Irvine, CA, where she lived like an ordinary housewife with her youngest
son, Michael Corleone Sepulveda. In 1985, Blanco was arrested in Irvine
on narcotics trafficking charges by the man who had tracked her relentlessly
for years, D.E.A. Agent Bob Palumbo. Blanco was extradited to FL, where
she was represented by William Kennedy Smith attorney Roy Black, and given
a ten year sentence for drug dealing. In 1993, she was indicted for murder,
thanks to Riverito. Al Singleton and June Hawkins had debriefed "Rivi"
for years. And yet, her murder trial has been delayed so often that federal
agents and police joke that she must practice Santeria in her prison cell.
Al Singleton states emphatically,
"I have never heard of any woman who was as prolific a killer as Griselda
Blanco. She may be the most prolific killer of all time. Riverito's testimony
linked her directly to twelve homicides in Queens, twelve in Miami...
and implied an unknown quantity in Colombia. She put out hits on Colombians
from the United States and also from Colombia where she lived periodically
. She had no remorse whatsoever."
"She didn't just have people shot.
In September, 1982, one of her hitmen stabbed a rival 19 times with a
bayonet as he was going through Customs in Miami International Airport.
He lived ... but didn't press charges."
"In the late 70's, early 80's, she began
to make a bridge from Colombia to Miami to NYC for cocaine trafficking.
She was one of the first entrepreneurs. She had the vision to see a market
... and she had all the power and influence from Colombia and the reputation."
But, in July, 1998, a scandal erupted,
delaying Blanco's trial from its scheduled date of October, 1999. It was
then discovered that Riverito had begun paying secretaries at the Miami-Dade
State Attorney's Office for phone sex, while remaining incarcerated in
a Witness Protection Prison. Two of these secretaries have been suspended
without pay when it was discovered that they had cashed money orders for
"Rivi" at the office. The prosecutors, naturally,worried that he may have
confided in them, compromising the case.
Says Singleton, "This whole thing
turned into a real clusterfuck. Someone leaked this to the media and it
has received more coverage than Griselda Blanco's incredible array of
heinous crimes...which she has never had to account for!"
Finally, on October 1, 1998, state
prosecutors decided to negotiate a plea with Blanco.
Griselda Blanco pled guilty to ordering
the murders of the Lorenzos, and of ordering the murder of Chucho Castro,
resulting in his son Johnny's death. Her sentence? Twenty years in a FL
state prison. She will never face charges for the Dadeland Massacre.
Says Al Singleton, "I feel angry,
but relieved that it's over because it's been such a long time. The only
consolation to me is that she is now 56 years old and in poor health,
due to her life of debauchery. She has already had one heart attack in
prison. Maybe these 20 years will be a life sentence."
Surovell 3/2000, U.S. Library of Congress