The Hit That Started It All: ’79 Dadeland Mall Massacre Had South Fla. Drug Scene Moving In Scary Direction

Historians trace the birth of the entire crazy “Cocaine Cowboys Era” in South Florida to a single event: the headline-grabbing Dadeland Mall Massacre on July 11, 1979 where two Miami drug world figures were slain in a Wild-West style shootout in the upscale mall’s liquor store. The audacious gangland hit foreshadowed a coming decade marked by further bold acts of violence, droves of flashy Colombian and Cuban drug lords swashbuckling their way to tremendous levels of wealth and power in the Great American Coke Boom of the 1980s in an area transformed overnight from a dusty, quiet retirement community to a polished, trendy pastel-painted metropolis known for life in the fast lane.

No arrests have ever been made in the Dadeland Mall Massacre, but police have a pretty good idea of who and what was behind the murders of Colombian drug kingpin German Jimenez Panesso and his bodyguard Juan Carlos Hernandez, a double homicide that took place 40 years this week and shook South Florida to its core. One thing is known for certain — who gave the order? They called her “The Godmother.”

The seeds of the bloody shopping mall assassination plot were planted when Panesso began feuding with Miami crime boss Carlos Panello Ramirez. Panesso and Ramirez both worked with Colombian drug baron Griselda (The Godmother) Blanco of the mammoth Medellin Cartel, maybe the most ruthless, feared and notorious female criminal of all-time. It’s believed since Blanco owed Panesso a substantial amount of money and didn’t want to have to pay it back, she sided with Ramirez in the dispute and dispatched a hit team to do away with Panesso.

Blanco would soon move to the U.S. full time, however, in 1979, she was still living in Colombia and assigned the Panesso contract to her man on the ground in Miami, Miguel (Paco) Sepulveda, according to Dade County Sheriff’s Department documents. Sepulveda in turn brought in Jorge (El Loco) Ayala, Blanco’s favorite hit man known in law enforcement circles simply as “Crazy George.” Ayala was a suspect in a number of signature “Cocaine Cowboy” slayings of the 1980s.

Convicted of narcotics trafficking out of New York in 1986, Blanco did 19 years in federal prison before being deported back to Colombia in 2004. She was assassinated outside a Medellin butcher shop on September 3, 2012.

This article was originally posted here