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'Queen of Cocaine' killed in Colombia

By Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor
September 4, 2012 -- Updated 2217 GMT (0617 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Griselda Blanco was a high-profile trafficker in Colombia and the United States
  • She was released from a U.S. prison in 2004
  • She is believed to have been living a quiet life in Medellin
  • She was gunned down Monday

(CNN) -- An elderly woman who was known as Colombia's "Queen of Cocaine" was gunned down in the northwestern city of Medellin, police said Tuesday.

Griselda Blanco, 69, was killed by two bullets at close range -- a violent end not unlike the ones that authorities say she ordered during her prime in the 1970s and 1980s.

Witnesses heard the roar of a motorcycle and two gunshots Monday afternoon, Medellin police spokesman Diego Chavarria said. By the time authorities arrived at the scene in Belen, a residential neighborhood in Medellin, they found Blanco lying on the ground in a pool of blood.

Blanco, also known as "the godmother" and "mafia's mother," gained notoriety in the 1970s and '80s when, authorities say, she was responsible for shipping multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Miami. She was also the mastermind, investigators say, of countless murders. She was also linked to drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Previously on CNN.com: Alleged leader of Colombia's Rastrojos drug gang arrested

In 1975, Blanco was charged in Miami with conspiring to manufacture, smuggle and distribute cocaine in the United States. For the next decade, she lived in Colombia, using false names and documents to hide from authorities. The Drug Enforcement Administration arrested Blanco in Irvine, California, in 1985. She was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.

But prosecutors were not done with her. Blanco was charged in 1994 with ordering three murders in the Miami area. The killings -- including that of 3-year-old Johnny Castro, who was shot while riding in a car with his targeted father -- happened in 1982.

Talking about her case at the time she was charged, Al Singleton, a sergeant with the Metro Dade Police Department, said police believed Blanco was responsible for dozens of murders in the Miami area.

"If she was not one of the most prolific traffickers in the Miami area, she clearly was one of the most violent. We've got her, conservatively, estimating her to be involved in at least 40 homicides between Miami, Queens and Broward County," he said at the time.

After serving her sentence, Blanco was deported to her native Colombia in 2004, where she apparently lived a quiet life. Local media reported that she was gunned down as she was leaving a butcher shop with a pregnant daughter-in-law, who was not injured.

According to a report by CNN affiliate Caracol TV, Blanco was the mother of four children. One of them is still serving a sentence for drug trafficking in the United States, and two were murdered. The fourth lives in Colombia.

Colombia peace talks set for October

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