Real-life Rafo ‘Amilcar’ Rodriguez In ‘Griselda’: How Did Amilcar Die?

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Rafael Leon Rodriguez, popularly known as Amilcar or El Loco, enjoyed a sort of monopoly in the Miami drug business in the early 1980s, before the arrival of Griselda Blanco in the United States of America. The real-life Mutiny Hotel in Miami was the common spot for the town’s infamous drug dealers, and the same was featured in Netflix’s series. However, Netflix’s Sofia Vergara-starrer drama is a heavily fictionalized version of the real-life events, where some creative liberties have been taken to portray Griselda in a certain light. For example, in the series, it was shown that Griselda shot her husband, Alberto Bravo, because he sold her dignity to his brother Fernando, which is completely false. As the story goes, Griselda was standing near Alberto’s car when the man said something that made Griselda mad, who impulsively pulled out a gun, stuck the muzzle in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. Later, she bragged about the entire incident. Similarly, even though Amilcar didn’t have much role to play in Griselda’s life and journey, the makers created a fictionalized version of him so that they could introduce their lady to her most trusted hitman, Jorge ‘Rivi’ Ayala.

In the series, when Amilcar first met Griselda, he mentioned to her that he came from Venezuela to Florida to pursue his American dream, which is true because the Venezuelan terrorist had a thing for luxury. Additionally, it is true that his father was a cop, used to practice marksmanship during his childhood, and was involved in the brutal murder of at least six Venezuelan policemen. It’s possible that the man escaped from his home country because of so many gruesome crimes to his name and came to America to start anew, just like the protagonist of the story, Griselda Blanco. Amilcar’s real-life character also draws parallels with India’s most wanted mafia, Dawood Ibrahim, who, much like Amilcar, was the son of a policeman and had a brutal rap sheet.

Throughout the first half of the series, Griselda made special arrangements so that she could become a part of Amilcar’s inner circle, only to find out that the man played a trick on her because he didn’t want a woman to hold a high position in Miami’s drug business. The Netflix series didn’t miss an opportunity to lay down the fact that the Miami crime world was ruled by men and there was no way a woman could become a part of it, yet Griselda proved everyone wrong, including Amilcar. It is true that she coined a special method to import drugs to America from Medellin in women’s undergarments, but she did it to sell the drugs directly to her customers and not to please Amilcar. Everything else revolving around the incident portrayed in the series is purely fictional. Amilcar also introduced Papo Mejia as his drug supplier, while in reality, Mejia was an enforcer who used to work for Griselda and later parted ways to establish his own territory. Such incidents suggest the possibility that perhaps Griselda never met Amilcar in real life, though the woman frequently visited the Mutiny Hotel to conduct her business. Additionally, Griselda had a long-standing rivalry with Papo Mejia, because of which she entrusted her various hitmen to hunt the man down and kill him in the most brutal way possible, but luckily, Mejia survived all the assassination attempts.

Moving forward, after Griselda had established her separate empire at the heart of Miami, Rafa Salazar arrived in the city to buy all the street players so that he could replace Amilcar and set up the monopoly of Ochoas. At this point, Netflix’s series introduced that the police, had found evidence to arrest Amilcar, because of which he was so keen on selling his empire to the Medellin Cartel and fleeing America just like he had escaped Venezuela. But Griselda intervened and sent her boyfriend, Dario Sepulveda, to kill the key witness so that she could save Amilcar from the police and secure her position in Miami. Even though it was an interesting turn of events, unfortunately, none of it was true. However, the documentary film Cocaine Cowboys: Reloaded did have a similar scene, famously known as Kendall Six, where Griselda had sent men to kill a person who was associated with her sworn enemy, Rafa Salazar. At the house, her hitman found six people—four Latin men and two Latin women—along with a 13-month-old baby. While all the adults were brutally murdered in the house, the baby disappeared only to be later found in a mall, sitting on a bench, which was tipped to the Miami police department by a call from Colombia.

On December 16, 1981, the police authorities found some intel on the 38-year-old Amilcar and followed his car on a Monday morning, only to face retaliation from his bodyguard. The exact same scene was shown in the Netflix series, and the only difference was the fact that real-life Jorge ‘Rivi’ Ayala never worked for Amilcar. In the series, Rivi had been working for Amilcar for a long time, but according to various police reports and Rivi’s own testimony, he met Griselda at the Jacaranda nightclub and soon started working as an enforcer, thereby becoming one of his most trusted hitmen.

The Metro police believed that the Venezuelan terrorist had been associated with more than fifty drug-related murders in South Florida but didn’t have any incriminating evidence against him. According to an undercover photographer, Baruch Vega, Amilcar had confessed to killing one of their mutual friends, too, which was the same information which he shared with the authorities. However, the real reason for Amilcar’s arrest was a dead body that the police had found on Aguedo Estrada Borrego‘s property. According to Aguedo’s son, Alex, his father was one of the largest Marijuana dealers operating during the early 1980s, long before the cocaine epidemic took over Miami. Alex also shared that Amilcar used to work as his father’s bodyguard until his arrest. Amilcar later pleaded guilty to a few of the murders and took his last breath in prison, never to become a free man again.

Netflix’s series further highlighted the fact that Amilcar’s most loyal man, Rivi, escaped the police after the shootout and went into hiding in California. Even though Amilcar’s real-life bodyguard was arrested along with him, the series fictionalized the entire event. They put Rivi in Amilcar’s gang so that they could give an interesting turn to Griselda’s journey to becoming the Godmother of Miami and Rivi’s contribution to the same. Some sources confirm that Rivi and Griselda did have romantic feelings for each other, but Rivi drew boundaries and kept them strictly professional because he knew what eventually happened to Griselda’s husbands and boyfriends. One cannot deny Rivi’s role in Griselda’s life, as the man, even after his arrest, helped Griselda get away with a minimum sentence.


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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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