Byliner Publishes COCAINE COWGIRL: The Outrageous Life and Mysterious Death of Griselda Blanco, the Godmother of Medellín

By Jennie Erin Smith

September 26, 2013—San Francisco—Today Byliner publishes Cocaine Cowgirl ($1.99), by celebrated journalist Jennie Erin Smith, a never before told story about the murder of the notorious “Godmother” of the U.S.-Colombia drug trade.

Her real name was Griselda Blanco, but she was known by many other, more evocative names: Black Widow, La Madrina, Queenpin. For years, she ventured where no woman had gone before, dominating the cocaine trade between South America and the United States, rivaled only by her fellow Colombian and sworn enemy, Pablo Escobar. During her time living in New York, Miami, and California, as well as Medellín, she left dozens, if not hundreds, of bodies in her wake, earning a reputation as one of the most brutal female criminals of all time.

Smith was living in Medellín when Blanco was killed a year ago this month, and quickly immersed herself in the legend. Even by the ruthless standards of the drug wars, Blanco was in a league of her own. Always immaculately coiffed and dripping with diamonds, she ordered horrific hits, torturing her enemies and then dispatching them with bullets and bombs. One man was bayoneted to death in an airport, and even a toddler was killed. She also allegedly murdered—or ordered the murders of—her own husbands and former partners in crime. Her entrepreneurial cunning extended to ordering custom lingerie from Medellín tailors with hidden pockets for smuggling coke, and sending fleets of women to America to deliver it.

After serving a prison term in the United States, Blanco returned to Colombia for what appeared to be a genteel retirement, right up to the moment she took a bullet in the head outside a butcher shop. Did she die in an act of long-deferred vengeance? Or had the lady Scarface become so soft and complacent that she now was an irresistible target?

About the Author: Jennie Erin Smith is the author of Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skulduggery (Crown, 2011). She has written about science, natural history, and the environment, most recently for the Times Literary Supplement, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Central America.

About Byliner: Byliner partners with the world’s best authors to bring readers the right story for every moment and mood. Perfectly sized fiction and nonfiction for a coffee break, a trip to work, or an evening in. Byliner publishes original fiction and nonfiction by top authors, including bestsellers such as Amy Tan’s Rules for Virgins, Margaret Atwood’s Positron, Jon Krakauer’s Three Cups of Deceit, Chuck Palahniuk’s Phoenix, Nicole Krauss’s An Arrangement of Light, and Sebastian Junger’s A World Made of Blood. These quick-read stories are written to be read in two hours or less, and can be purchased individually through major digital bookstores. The entire Byliner Originals library is available online to Byliner subscribers, as well as in the award-winning Byliner iPad app, which, with unique tools like a time selector that filters by reading time and story recommendations by bestselling authors, makes it even easier to discover the perfect story every time.

Cocaine Cowgirl is available for $1.99 as a Kindle Single at Amazon, a Quick Read at Apple’s iBookstore, a Nook Snap at, and a Short Read at Kobo. The story is free to Byliner subscribers at or in the Byliner iPad app. For an Advance Reading Copy or to schedule an interview with Jennie Erin Smith, please contact Clare Hertel at, 505-474-6783.



About Us

Byliner works directly with the world’s best writers to deliver great stories to readers. Named “one of the 10 Most Innovative Media Companies in the World” (Fast Company), Byliner is a subscription reading service and digital publisher of award-winning short fiction and nonfiction. A Byliner subscription provides unlimited access to more than 30,000 stories by hundreds of bestselling authors, as well as personalized story suggestions based on your reading time and interests. The entire library of Byliner Originals—including bestselling e-books by Margaret Atwood, Nick Hornby, Jon Krakauer, Ann Patchett, Nicole Krauss, Alexandra Fuller, Richard Russo, and Sebastian Junger—is available in the subscription service and through the major digital bookstores.



Quick facts

Cocaine Cowgirl is available for $1.99 as a Kindle Single at Amazon, a Quick Read at Apple’s iBookstore, a Nook Snap at, and a Short Read at Kobo. The story is free to Byliner subscribers at or in the Byliner iPad app.
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