A Colombian woman known as "the queen of cocaine" for her prominence in the illegal drug trade in the 1970s was shot to death by gunmen, authorities said Tuesday.
Gunmen on a motorcycle shot Griselda Blanco, 69, twice in the head Monday as she was leaving a butcher shop in the northwestern city of Medellin, they said.
Officials said Blanco had kept a low profile since her return to Colombia in 2004, after serving nearly 20 years of a 60 year sentence in the United States on drug trafficking charges.
Blanco, who was alleged to have shipped 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) of cocaine a month to the United States at the peak of her operation, was the first to open smuggling routes from Colombia through Florida.
She pioneered the use of human "mules" to carry cocaine into the United States, and later became a mentor to Pablo Escobar, the notorious chief of the Medellin drug cartel who later took over her operation.
She has been blamed for more than 250 killings, including that of her husband.