Papo Mejia And German Panesso: What Happened To Real-Life Rivals Of Griselda Blanco?


The Colombian Cartel was a male-dominated world until the infamous Cocaine Godmother, Griselda Blanco de Trujillo, stepped in and took over the trade by storm. Infamous for killing her boyfriends and husbands, Griselda got the name Black Widow as she laid the foundation of her gang in Miami, Los Pistoleros. Quite contrary to what was portrayed in the Netflix series, Griselda had been selling drugs with her husband Alberto Bravo in New York during the mid-1970s, because of which she came under police radar and had to flee to Colombia in 1974 to avoid arrest. But Griselda’s had an itch for power. The life in Medellin didn’t suit her anymore which was why she returned to America to build her empire from scratch once again. As she returned to the States, Griselda used her contacts in Medellin to import the drugs through a bunch of prostitutes who would make frequent trips between the two countries to smuggle cocaine. During this time, her supplier was a real-life drug vendor named Herman Jiminez Panesso, dubbed “German” in the Netflix series. Jiminez wasn’t an important person but his death had a huge impact on the country’s war against drug-based crimes, which made Griselda the most wanted cocaine smuggler in the United States.

Why did Griselda kill Jiminez in real life?

The Netflix series invested its entire runtime in establishing the fact that a woman can indeed run a cocaine business. However, in doing so, they watered down Griselda Blanco’s real character so much that it almost made her look fragile, something she hated being seen as her entire life. She was a ruthless killer who used to drain the blood of her victims in the bath and pack the bodies into packing cartons. As shown in the series, the fictionalized German betrayed Griselda and joined forces with Rafa Salazar, which was why the cocaine godmother got the man killed. However, in real life, Griselda owed huge debts to Jiminez, and in the cartel business, the best way to clear off debts was to kill the creditor instead of taking the long road. Additionally, Jiminez had been sleeping with Paco Sepulveda’s girlfriend, who had been working as an enforcer for Griselda for a long time. Jiminez’s assassination could be out of personal vendetta, though there is no hard evidence to prove the exact reason.

On July 11, 1979, real-life Jiminez was brutally murdered inside the Crown liquor store, where Griselda had arranged a meeting with the narcotics leader. It is no surprise that Griselda was the mastermind behind the Dade County Shopping Mall Massacre, a well-planned execution that marked the beginning of the Cocaine Wars, the most horrific era in Miami’s history. The deaths of the store owner and an assistant terrified the public and media to the core, pressuring the homicide department to take strict action against the drug cartels operating their business in Miami. Jiminez’s assassination, and a series of brutal murders that followed led to the creation of a special task force in Miami to take immediate actions against the drug-related crimes and protect the public from their wrath.

Why did Griselda attack Papo Mejia?

As shown in the Netflix series, the drug lords in Miami weren’t happy with Griselda’s rise to power, which eventually led to a violent struggle for the drug reigns in Miami. Out of the numerous enemies, the most prominent one was Papo Mejia, whom Griselda wanted to eliminate by all means possible. But it’s not entirely true. According to real-life Jorge Ayala, or Rivi, Papo Mejia used to be an enforcer for Griselda, but he decided to walk out of the gang and start his own. It was something Griselda despised the most. She never forgave or forgot anyone who betrayed her, which was why she targeted Mejia later in life. Griselda had planned an execution of Mejia’s right hand, Hermanos Granados, but Ayala intervened and spoiled the plan. The low-life thug didn’t know about the Miami Godmother before the incident, which was why he later offered to take down Hermanos for free. As Ayala became a trusted member of Griselda’s gang, she entrusted the man to carry out several hits on her rivals.

In the Netflix series, Papo Mejia’s father died in an explosion when Griselda’s men planted a bomb in his house. However, in real life, he was shot in cold blood in the Midway shopping mall. While the Netflix scene is entirely fictional, Griselda did bring explosives from Texas to blow up her enemies (as told by Ayala in the documentary film, Cocaine Cowboys: Reloaded).

The real incident with explosives took place in August 1982, when Ayala finally located Mejia in Las Palmas, Medellin. Griselda’s most trusted hitman and her son, Osvaldo, followed Mejia into a bar, where Ayala threw a grenade at him, but fortunately, Mejia managed to escape. As far as the airport scene is concerned, the Netflix series claims that Griselda finally stabbed Mejia to death, which isn’t true either. She had offered Miguel Perez $100,000 to stab Papo Mejia with a 12-inch bayonet at the Miami airport, but the drug supplier somehow survived the attack. After the unsuccessful attempt, Perez attacked Mejia several times until Mejia was finally arrested and presented before the jury on February 3, 1983, in Tucson, where he was sentenced to 30 years in prison on March 18. He was later released from prison in 2000, after which he disappeared, never to be heard from again. Miguel Perez, on the other hand, was arrested by the authorities in 1997 and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He was later released in March 2008.

In the end, most of Griselda’s enemies and allies became state witnesses in order to cut a deal with the law enforcers so as to shorten their sentences. As of now, most of these hitmen and drug traffickers are leading isolated lives in parts of Colombia and Mexico and have shied away from a life of crime. Griselda, too, had something of that sort in mind, but she was executed by an unknown assassin in 2012. She is survived by her only son, Michael Corleone Blanco, who returned to Miami, where he is now living a peaceful life with his family.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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