Every so often a criminal persona will have a street reputation so grand; it will become permanently fixated into popular culture. From Al Capone and his cigar, the Son of Sams grim mystique all the way up to John Gottis Teflon disposure. In 2006 a new outlaw would be etched in our hearts via the cult classic documentary Cocaine Cowboys.
The film chronicled the insane drug trafficking flowing throughout Miami in the 1970s and 1980s. At the center of all the money, murder, and kidnapping was Griselda Blanco. Also known as The Godmother, Blanco was a pioneer in the cocaine trade due to her amassed fortune and ruthless ambition to stay at top.
While Cocaine Cowboys detailed her rise to infamy, her entire story was not told. Now with the recent release of the much awaited sequel Cocaine Cowboys 2, her story continues in California. Albeit being incarcerated, Blanco still ran a multi million dollar drug operation behind bars with the assistance of Charles Cosby. A dealer himself, Cosby would link with Griselda and make street history. In an exclusive, AllHipHop.com speaks to The Godmothers multi million dollar man.
Point blank his story will make your favorite rappers favorite hustler look like a chump. Who else but us?
AllHipHop.com: Cocaine Cowboys 2 just dropped. Can you give the readers who havent seen the movie some background information on you? Lets start when you were coming up in the drug game in the west coast.
Charles Cosby: Okay I grew up in Oakland California in a little community called Brookfield Village. In contrary to what it may sound like, its not a [housing] project. It was a single family home neighborhood. I was like any other kid growing up in the hood you know hanging out and then the crack cocaine epidemic hit Brookfield in 1983, 1984. So all my friends around me were involved in that and I soon became apart of the fast life as well.
AllHipHop.com: So you started hustling?
Charles Cosby: I started hustling right at sixteen years old. You know everybody was doing it. That was the new thing sweeping across the ghettos of the United States of America. I was like everybody else, I wanted to be apart of it.
AllHipHop.com: As I hear you are doing well for yourself in the drug game and become aware of The Godmother Griselda Blanco.
Charles Cosby: I originally heard of Griselda Blanco February 1985 when she was arrested in Southern California. Thats the first time I was aware of Griselda Blanco. I didnt make contact with her until six years later.
AllHipHop.com: Everyone knows you wrote her a letter while she was incarnated, but not many people know you actually were introduced to Griselda through one of her associates first correct?
Charles Cosby: Correct. I was at a relatives house I met a Panamanian lady named Manuella. She once worked for Griselda Blanco in New York and also in Miami. So she had an in road to Griselda. Thats how I originally made contact.
AllHipHop.com: So it was the type of thing where she told Griselda “I know of a gentleman that would be interested in speaking to you”; basically cosigning you correct?
Charles Cosby: Correct. She got in contact with Griselda. She said I met this Black guy in Los Angeles, hes originally from the Bay area and he wanted to make contact with you. I just want to let you know he respects you and wants to meet you; for no other reason that he has love for you. So Griselda was expecting to hear from me. When she did hear from me she called me in the next couple of days. She was careful, like what is up with the sudden interest. Am I trying to make contact to ask her for money or what not?
AllHipHop.com: She was doing federal time in northern California correct?
Charles Cosby: Yes.
AllHipHop.com: Ive asked around with individuals familiar with that fast life. Colombians generally dont associate with people of color, namely African Americans. How did you break that wall with her?
Charles Cosby: Yeah, they dont f*** with Black people. They dont even f*** with dark skinned Colombians. In their eyes light skin is superior and dark skin is inferior. She wasnt hesitant in dealing with me the way I addressed her I said an earful. So she couldnt do anything but respect what I had to say. It was a hell of a beginning. She respected me; I respected her for allowing me the honor.
AllHipHop.com: When did Griselda get out of prison?
Charles Cosby: Griselda didnt get out until 2004. She did nineteen years.
AllHipHop.com: So you were running her entire operation while she was locked in?
Charles Cosby: Yeah, while she was locked in jail. Even before she was in prison, she earned up to a billion dollars a year, with a b. Once she went to federal prison, a lot of her income dropped off but still she was at fifty million behind the walls which is incredible.
AllHipHop.com: So detail how everything starts rolling where youre her go to guy. Do you just take the ball and run with it or was it a situation of back and forth conversations where she outlined how she wanted her business dealt?
Charles Cosby: Well when I made contact with Griselda Blanco, I wasnt allowed to visit her because I was on probation at the time in 91. Federal rules prohibited me from fraternizing with her in person. So after nine to ten months, we established a strong relationship throughout the course of phone calls and letters. Once I was able to go see her all those months later, it was like going to meet my friend who I havent seen in years because thats the type of relationship we had established. The very first visit she agreed to give me fifty kilograms of cocaine and a hundred kilograms in the next month or so. You know selling fifty kilograms in three to four weeks was two million dollars.
AllHipHop.com: From that point you couldnt turn away.
Charles Cosby: Well I didnt want to turn away. The money was good. Up until that point, I met Griselda I was just a street dealer. A few crack houses here and there, but my income was limited. A couple of thousand dollars every couple of days or what ever it may have been. There was no way without The Godmother I would have reached the level that I eventually reached.
AllHipHop.com: So how was the operation run with her on the inside and you on the outside?
Charles Cosby: Well the thing is Colombians are at the top of the food chain. Thats the end all be all supply. They have real power, unlike these American Gangsters Columbian motherf***ers have real power. So if they go to jail or even if they die, the operation is still going to run regardless. So with her being in federal prison, from drug trafficking she still has subordinates in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco who were still on the street doing their thing. But when I came on board she became so fond of me, her love grew so much for me she appointed me to run her entire organization. Which means the people that have been with her fifteen years on her payroll, they were forced to take orders from me; if they wanted to talk to The Godmother, they would have to go through me in order to reach her. It fractured a lot of egos. It created a lot of animosity towards me. First I was Black but then I subsequently became their boss. So I had two strikes against me.
AllHipHop.com: Once you were appointed the top position in her organization, did you start fearing for your life?
Charles Cosby: I didnt fear for my life not once because it was an adventure. Know what I mean and Im an adventurist. Everyday was fun, everyday was a new challenge. Im from the hood; my income was limited before I met Griselda. After that I became a multi millionaire in a relatively short time. That was fun, it was intoxicating within itself.
AllHipHop.com: So this is the powder thing?
Charles Cosby: Yeah I got it in bricks and thats how I sold them.
AllHipHop.com: So you didnt have a team on street, you were more of a wholesaler correct?
Charles Cosby: Well I was the supplier that supplied the wholesalers.
AllHipHop.com: How much you were letting the bricks go for back then?
Charles Cosby: Well it was over a five year span, so it was going anywhere from the high twenty eights to the low twentys.
Charles Cosby: That was probably ninety five percent pure cocaine.
AllHipHop.com: So your millions start to come in. Paint the picture of the life of luxury you lived immediately after coming into the big money.
Charles Cosby: At my peak, I mean purchased a five thousand square foot home in Oakland Hills which overlooked the entire city. You can see as far as San Francisco from my bedroom window. In fact in Cocaine Cowboys 2 youll see a clip where Im standing to the left of my home and Im overlooking the city. Its a beautiful shot. I had a Ferrari 512. Although The Godmother tried to curtail my spending, she always said high end spending would do me in which I found out later to be true. She didnt want me to buy high end merchandise but I would go behind her back and do it anyway. It was dream to me that came true.
AllHipHop.com: During your time as top dog in the drug game, did you ever have deals with the original Freeway Rick Ross?
Charles Cosby: When I actually got with The Godmother, he was already incarcerated. Coincidentally, she was Rick Ross’ supplier at one time before she was arrested in Los Angeles. Yeah I would hear the names Rick Ross, ALPO, Supreme, a few other guys, Fat Cat, whoever. But the thing of it is Im going to tell you a thing most people dont know. Those dudes didnt do the numbers that have been said. Thats not possible. Its not possible for someone in the hood to make three million dollars in a day.
So when you hear those numbers about what Rick Ross did, thats just not true. Colombians make three million in a day. Not no dude on the block, I dont give a f*** who he is, how big he is, or how big his name was, he didnt make three million dollars a day. Same thing for Alpo and Supreme; these dudes were breaded out but not to the extent that has been portrayed on American Gangster or sh*t like that. They probably had three or four million that they can touch, but at my peak I could touch twenty million dollars easy! Thats the difference.
AllHipHop.com: How about Rayful Edmonds from DC?
Charles Cosby: Oh Rayful Edmonds was the real deal. He actually f***d with Griseldas kids when she was in federal prison, he was dealing with her and her family which is documented on different television outlets but I knew that story fifteen years ago about Rayful. Rayful is the real deal. If I would have to tip my hat to anyone of them, it would be Rayful. Because he a real dude. I know the numbers he did because Griselda told me from her own mouth.
AllHipHop.com: How about Michael Fray. He was from DC and was supposedly getting it too.
Charles Cosby: I never heard of him.
AllHipHop.com: And the Chambers Brothers from Detroit?
Charles Cosby: Those cats they did well. They did a million a week or whatever it might have been. This is what I know and this me who was on the inside. At her peak, Griselda made three million dollars a day which equates to roughly a billion dollars a year. She was the biggest of the big and she controlled the majority of the supply. So how is a cat from the hood going to generate three million a day? It isnt possible.
AllHipHop.com: I want you to shed some light on the inner works of the Colombian cocaine cartels. The general population believed Pablo Escobar was the man. When Cocaine Cowboys hit it put the focus on the Ochoa Brothers. Whats your take on that?
Charles Cosby: Well Im going to give you a complete breakdown, this is the real deal. Griselda Blanco was the first Colombian drug lord in the United States of America. This is just not me saying it, the records say this. She was the first one. By the time 1975 came around, Griselda had five hundred million dollars in cash; thats what she was worth. Thats before Escobar was even a drug dealer. Escobar was stealing cars just to make ends meat. Griselda Blanco was the one who gave Pablo Escobar his start and he was loyal to her for a number of years. As far as the Ochoas, they came into the game in the later years in 78 and 79.
By that time she had become a billionaire, she had become the first cocaine billionaire in the world. But years later in the early 1980s, Pablo Escobar, The Ochoas, Carlos Lehder and [José Gonzalo] Rodríguez Gacha, their money and power eventually surpassed Griseldas. They became mightier then The Godmother. They were more like a coalition; they worked hand and hand.
AllHipHop.com: If she was sitting on all that cash where did she keep it at? Did she have it in different stash houses?
Charles Cosby: Well it goes to stash houses before it goes across the water. Which usually ends up at the Bank Of Colombia which is our Bank Of America. It could go to Panama or the Cayman Islands or wherever during that period.
AllHipHop.com: Have you ever seen the autobiographical movie on Boston George Jung Blow?
Charles Cosby: Yeah I have. But lets go back to the numbers being inflated because years ago George Jung gave an interview and they asked him how much money did you make and loose? So he said during my time of drug dealing with the cartel and Carlos Lehder I made and lost a ten million dollar fortune. So fast forward to years later his book came out before the movie. BLOW: How a Small-Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All. It inflated his numbers ten times.
AllHipHop.com: I bring up the Boston George because I wanted to check in with you on how prevalent it was with people taking their earnings to Manuel Noriegas banks in Panama.
Charles Cosby: Well Noriega was a king of drug dealers as well. He was actually in big with the cartels, Pablo Escobar, The Ochoas. When those guys got in trouble with the Columbian government they fled to Panama; Noriega put them up in Panama for a fee. They became large amounts of money into Panamanian accounts which subsequently Noriega ended up taking their money when they fled back to Colombia. So there was nothing they can do about it.