How hitman Jorge 'Rivi' Ayala's sex scandal changed the case against Griselda Blanco

  • Jorge "Rivi" Ayala is a real person who's depicted in the Netflix drama "Griselda."

  • Ayala was one of Blanco's hitmen. He was set to testify against her before a phone sex scandal.

  • Ayala is currently in prison. He was denied an appeal to reduce his life sentence.

"Griselda," the new Netflix series starring Sofia Vergara, adapts the story of drug lord Griselda Blanco for the small screen, depicting some of the key people and events in her life in the late 1970s and 1980s in Miami.

Jorge "Rivi" Ayala, played by Martín Rodríguez, is one of those people, and he's an important figure in both the series and Blanco's real life. While Ayala starts out in the show as a rival subordinate, he eventually becomes Blanco's trusted hitman. In the series' final episode, he's arrested after Blanco, and takes a deal to sell out her out to the police in exchange for not facing the death penalty. As a final gift to his former employer, however, he sabotages the trial by inciting a phone sex relationship with the DA's assistant, effectively destroying the case against Blanco, since he was supposed to be the prosecutor's star witness.

It's not that different from how things played out in real life, though "Griselda" certainly fills in the gaps about Ayala's intentions. In real life, Ayala was arrested and convicted of multiple murders. He was a cornerstone of the murder case against Blanco, after she had previously been sentenced on drug charges — but after he was found having phone sex with three secretaries in the prosecutor's office, the case fizzled. Blanco eventually took a deal that saw her released from prison in 2004, and she was deported to Colombia.

Here's what happened to the real Jorge "Rivi" Ayala.

Ayala pleaded guilty to three murders in 1993

Before Blanco faced murder charges, her hitman Ayala did.

According to NBC Miami, Ayala pleaded guilty in 1993 to three killings. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

One of those killings was the 1982 murder of 2-year-old Johnny Castro, CBS News reported. Ayala and his team were seeking to kill Johnny's father, Jesus Castro, after he failed to help one of Blanco's sons. West Miami Police Chief Nelson Andreu told CBS that Blanco was reportedly "ecstatic" to learn that Johnny had died instead of Jesus, given that he had spurned her own son.

Ayala was supposed to be a key witness against Blanco — until a sex scandal

Blanco was arrested in 1985 and was subsequently found guilty of manufacturing, importing, and distributing cocaine in the United States and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Thirteen years into her sentence, she was moved to Florida, where she would face murder charges.

"The star witness against Griselda was going to Jorge Ayala. There was no DNA. There were no fingerprints. There was very little physical ballistics. I don't know if we had any evidence we could even match at the time," Andreu, the police chief, told CBS.

But Ayala's involvement in a phone sex scandal changed everything after it was revealed that he and three secretaries in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office had been having sexually explicit phone conversations and sharing gifts, per CBS.

The three secretaries were fired, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The affair led to concerns that the case was compromised, given that the secretaries in question had access to prosecutors' files on the case.

During an investigation into the scandal, the Tampa Bay Times reported that another secretary alleged that a prosecutor in the office, Michael Band, had sexually harassed her. Band denied the accusations and resigned.

Blanco eventually struck a deal in the case and was convicted of three murders, per Time. Her deal led to her serving three 20-year sentences concurrently. She was released and deported in 2004, and was killed in Colombia in 2012.

Ayala was denied consideration to reduce his sentence

In 2012, the Florida Parole Commission denied Ayala parole, the Miami Herald reported.

In 2013, he petitioned to have his sentence reduced on account of his cooperation with law enforcement, but a Miami-Dade Circuit Judge said his appeal was "untimely" and unable to be considered, per the Miami Herald. At the time, Ayala's attorney Jim Lewis said in court that it was Ayala's "last chance" at freedom and that he would "die in prison" otherwise, per CBS.

If released, Ayala would be deported to Colombia, the Miami Herald reported. Per the Florida Department of Corrections, he is still in prison and being held at Suwannee Correctional Institution in Live Oak, Florida.

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