Legends of Streets:
Top Kingpins, Gang Leaders, Crews City to city
In every city there is a very small percentage of people from urban areas that indulge in the certain activities of the streets. Within the small percentage are a selected few who reach certain status of ‘hood celebrity or ‘hood rich, somewhat a legend to a crowd who finds the streets fascinating.
In this article names will be abbreviated or only aliases will be used, in most cases, even though many can still guess or find out the actual person. This article is not incriminating anyone as mostly all the cases are from the 70s, 80s and 90s with everyone being either convicted or pled guilty, while being currently incarcerated, deceased, or changed their life around for the better.
Many of the stories are just brief summaries and if a reader would like to know more than they should do their own research. This article will be constantly updated with stories on Chicago, Philly, Tennessee, Bronx, and more coming soon.
Long before BMF and the rise of the country’s number one rap scene the streets of Atlanta were much different. The streets were not necessarily more active, even though there is no doubt they were, but fiercer as these days are much calmer compared to when Atlanta was more country based and urbanized, basically before the glamour and glitz.
Before the city demolished the housing projects, they were the site of a number of crews and cliques as Atlanta’s public housing complex were the number one hustling spot in the city, or in Atlanta’s case the number one trap, pretty much an open-air drug market.
While we can name the over a couple dozen public housing complexes that were once in Atlanta, all being associated with the streets as some are more notorious than others, but cliques like Down By Law of East Lake Meadows, the West Side’s Diablos, or the Refuse Posse out of SouthWest Atlanta were some of the most notorious cliques during the late 1980s and 1990s.
Outside of the cliques and crews, the true legends of the streets of Atlanta include people like Charles Black, Terry White, Todd Strong, Bruce Gaines, Fat Steve, Kinta of Jonesboro South, or even Atlanta rappers were well known to earn through the streets, like Shawty Lo or Rocko, before the launch of their careers.
A historic moment in Atlanta was the Miami Boys, a group of people who came from Miami after a very destructive hurricane tore through South Florida, similarities of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, with the ambition to run the city of Atlanta.
Their ambition was stopped short as they would get into conflicts with multiple neighborhoods across the city, most noticeably the Herndon Homes Boys. The rise of the Miami Boys and the violence that came with them led to the creation of Atlanta’s police department’s drug unit, known to the locals as the RED DOG’s. The downfall of the Miami Boys should be credited to the newly created drug and gang task forces, as well pressure from different neighborhoods, despite the Miami Boys have the best product during that time.
From the West Side to the East Side, the city of Baltimore had a number of legends that once ran the streets, many of them would later become fictional characters on the famous television show “The Wire”, to go along with some of the once notorious housing projects that were the center of many operations.
Watching “The Wire” gives an example of the streets of Baltimore from the 1970s to the early 1990s, but only in a modern-day perspective. The use of heroin during the 1970s transformed into the use crack cocaine in the 1980s and 1990s and once again the users turning back to heroin as of the 2000s. Each era was different, the 1970s with a more chain of command and only a chosen few were involved to the 1990s with the rise of violence, people standing on the corner and many were involved.
While there were times when Jamaicans and people from New York profit in the streets of Baltimore, the main Baltimore players were with the likes of the old school legends of Peanut King, Little Melvin, followed by the 1980s with T. Stanfield, M. Bates, N. Barksdale (Bodie), then in the 1990s with Rudy, A. Jones, T.L. Canty, and later the likes of the G. Smith (Mr Big), Rice Brothers, K. Peoples, all allegedly made millions of dollars during their day.
While every city has kingpins and people who control the trade, every city also has notorious neighborhoods that have gained reputations in the city for the wrong reasons. Housing projects of the old Lexington Terrace and Murphy Homes on the city’s West Side or East Baltimore’s Lafayette Courts and Flag House, all torn down in the 1990s, became legendary communities before their demolishing with plenty of memories, good and bad for the former residents and occupants.
The culture of the Bay Area is very rich, on the positive side with the Black Panthers standing up for the community and on the negative side with the numerous pimps, hustlers, and gangsters that once roamed the major cities of the Bay Area.
As the Black Panther movement was slowly fading away, a new era of Oakland was becoming as many were turning to the streets. The dope game of the Bay Area started during the 1970s with heroin and escalated during the 1980s and into the 1990s with the introduction of crack and rival turf wars, especially in the city of Oakland.
According to author Titus Lee Barnes, there were three main neighborhoods in the city that were contributing to much of the mayhem and were profiting the most from it, Funktown, 23rd and the 6-9 Mob (69th Ville).
The Funktown neighborhood, which is currently being gentrified, was based just blocks away from Oakland’s downtown and was the first neighborhood one would arrive in if they were travel into East Oakland. A legendary area that had much of reputation as anywhere else in Oakland was allegedly recording thousands weekly, if not more, in profit during the 70s and 80s.
Now known as Lion Creek Crossing, the former 69 Ville housing complex was the once home of the well known 69 Mob. Some may claim that the rise of F. Mitchel, aka Big Fee, is something that was never seen before and has yet to be duplicated. Some may also claim that Big Fee was the pioneer of the dope game as he and the 69 Mob, which also consisted of T. Black and Lil D who followed after Big Fee’s arrest, became very profitable while being hated amongst competition.
In an area with plenty of monikers, the Rollin’ 20s, Murder Dubbs, or the Twomps, the main rival of the 69 Mob was the Family who was centered around 23rd. At the head was Mickey Mo, who along with others were involved in a very violent dispute with the Funktown neighborhood during the 1980s. The war between was just the beginning of what would become for the town of Oakland during the 1980s and 1990s.
The Bay Area had plenty of legends who became millionaires, or close to it, from the streets, like Hollyrock of West Oakland’s Acorn Projects, Ant Flowers of East Oakland, Big Kev of Vallejo, who was also accused of plotting to bomb the courthouse to destroy evidence, and J. Beasley, the biggest hustler to ever come out of San Francisco. Not until ’93, after his arrest, did authorities realize that R. Henderson was the one who truly made the most money out of everyone during that time.
Before the rise of the Bay Area’s true dope game, there was the Ward Brothers who were very diverse in their activities from pimping to hustling, mainly through the 1960s and 1970s, as the character from the film The Mack was based on them.
Brooklyn, New York
Places like Brownsville and East New York were notorious back in the day, along with Bed Stuy and a few housing projects like fort Greene, as these areas were the heart of Brooklyn’s streets in the 80s and 90s, at least until the large crackdown during the late 90s that sentenced hundreds to do a bulk of years in prison, at least.
Dating back to the 1970s poverty and an infestation of drugs truly changed the fabric of Brooklyn. Neighborhoods that were once occupied by European immigrants became home to minorities as the resources of the communities began to become scarce and unavailable. By the 1980s and into the 1990s, the problems of neglect and poverty turned the borough of Brooklyn into a well makeshift environment of hustlers and killers, as well corrupted police who at times would operate as organize crime syndicate of extortion, stealing and other felonious crimes, example Officer Dowd of Brownsville.
Some of the Brooklyn big names during that time were Danny Diamonds of Marcy, Killer Ben of Fort Green, Domencio, Puerto Rican Jesus, Kendu, Hardy Boys, Big Lou, Molock of Coney Island’s 23rd and Mermaid, or Baby Sam, who sentenced to life in prison and given one of the largest fines in history, the A-Team, Poison Clan, and others.
Buffalo, New York
The period of the late 1980s and 1990s was one of the worse eras that city has ever seen, due to violence from the introduction of drugs. During this period, people like Sly Green and the rest of the crew that were labeled as the LA Boys had the city on lock during their reign. Green’s reign would last until the mid-1990s as federal indictments took down the entire group, but to some who identify with the street life will forever recognize him as the one and only true legend of Buffalo’s East Side.
While the LA Boys were all over the city’s East Side, there were a number of blocks that became notorious for violence and for being very profitable. Blocks like Goodyear, home to the Goodyear Crew and another East Side street legend by the name of E. After the LA Boys went to prison there was a void, and E and the Goodyear Crew filled it. In an area of other legendary ‘hoods like Montana Avenue, E Hennings and the Goodyear Crew would be the kings of Buffalo, but only lasting until ’95 as indictments and arrests of dozens within the community ended their short run.
In the city of Cleveland some may have heard the likes of Chase Moore, Big Baby, or K. Ricks, but The Land was mainly known for specific neighborhoods working together, especially during the 2000s when Cleveland was one of six cities to receive a federal grant to combat local gangs, meaning activity in certain neighborhoods since there is not an actual gang problem in Cleveland. During the era, officials, both local and federal law enforcement, indicted and arrested around a dozen neighborhoods, which lasted from 2005 to 2008.
‘Hoods like the Dirty 30, officially known as the Cedar Estates, one of many public housing complexes in the city’s Down The Way neighborhood. This large complex around Cedar and 30th was on the radar of the local federal agents as early as 2005 due to local violence. After arrest of over a dozen people in the neighborhood, sentencing was reached with the most one received being over 20 years as there were claims that the area was once producing thousands weekly.
In the neighborhood of St. Clair – Superior is a small section between 71st and 79th known as the area of the 7 All. Already known for other sections like Zone 6, who themselves were indicted during the late 2010s for more petty crimes, 7 All did make their presence to be known. Allegedly, after conflict with neighborhoods on the other side of Superior a group within the community decided to link to deal with the conflict. Eventually, the 7 All neighborhood would become known for something else as some of Cleveland’s biggest earners came from the area, earners who gained enough to indulge in luxuries. Similar to the Dirty 30 neighborhood, violence led law enforcement to begin to investigate the communities activities, beginning around 2005 that would later lead to arrests only a couple years later.
In a historic community, Hough, is an area that the locals refer as Hough Heights around 93rd. In 2007, the feds came in after alleged large amounts of PCP were being sold as a 93rd apartment complex was known as Water World. Another area made famous by Bone Thugs N Harmony is the Glenville community. The combination of the Wasteland and the 10-5 created a group known as Waste 5. The Waste 5 would not last long as indictments led to their demise.
On the city’s SouthEast Side was the LA Gunnaz that were off 116th Street, mainly based around 123rd and Lenacrave. Financially not as profitable as other areas, but their reputation led to the indictment of the entire community by the late 2000s. The main difference is that the area was not very profitable and many from the neighborhood were only minors and given short sentences.
The streets of Ohio’s capital city once consisted with communities like Uzi Alley, Poindexter housing projects, 22nd Street, or the old Windsor Terrace and Short North Posses. These neighborhoods were notorious during the 1980s and 1990s, with some having a reputation since the 1970s.
As mention, the Short North Posse was one of Ohio’s most active communities, for decades around the area of 4th and 8th, with constant law enforcement investigations and indictments. While the media might have exaggerated the crimes and activities of the community, mainly due to the close location to Ohio State University and other local attractions, the area was always feared by numerous Columbus residents, but for the right reasons, reasons of disrespect towards the community.
Through the multiple indictments since the early 1990s, officials claim the Short North Posse was accountable for dozens of homicides and involved in the constant distribution of drugs. Today, from individuals of the community constantly being involved in state and federal investigations to gentrification, the once urban neighborhood of the Short North has completely transformed.
One of the most memorable crews of Columbus was the X-Clan who reign throughout the late 1990s until their conviction during 2000. Authorities claim that they were responsible for over a dozen homicides. Despite during the trial of one of the X-Clan’s alleged leaders the defendant claim that he was not given a fair trial, ultimately the leader of the once infamous X Clan was sentenced to life in prison.
During 2009, in the North Side’s Brittany Hills community, federal agents came in on a man referred as Papa Joe and the alleged group of the Brittany Hills Posse, along with dozens of others, as there has been information on a connection between Ohio and Atlanta that contributed to people earning thousands of dollars.
The city of hustlers, the city of true go getters, the city of if make it hear then you can make it anywhere, Detroit. Most know of the activities of Detroit, especially out of state law enforcement and authorities who for the past few decades have had to deal with plenty of Detroit residents who make the out of state trip.
In a city of hustlers there cannot be a shortage of street legends. While the Italian Mob once controlled the city, things started to change with the likes of Blaze Marzette, who was the first and true legend of the city’s underworld and became known as the Godfather for his run during the 1960s. The 1970s was when things took off for the city. Frank Nitti and Murder Row and the West Side’s own Young Boys Incorporated who allegedly made millions through the 1970s and the early 1980s.
As the crack era entered the city of Detroit so have a number of other kingpins and crews. Big Ed, Maserati Rick, who received his name for his purchase of lavish and exotic possessions, Pony Down, a group of youths that were quite similar to YBI of the 70s, D. Holloway, who was more of an old school hustler with multiple revenue streams, and the Chambers Brothers whose ambitious hustling tactics led them high profits but also their downfall.
The following years into the 1990s and 2000s, the city would see a number of ‘hood celebrities and hustlers who would profit much more, in the case of Powell Brothers, and much less than the previous generations. The most famous of all-time would have to be two brothers from the West Side’s Puritan Avenue, Big Meech and T. From the West Side of Detroit to becoming a nationwide crew, BMF was one of the largest groups of righteous hustlers to come out of any city.
There numerous more legends and hustlers to come out of the streets of Detroit. One hustle that was big in the city was murder for hire, also known as taking hits. Some of the ones with the most notoriety were groups like the Brown Brothers and the Best Friends, who were around during the 1980s, or individuals like C. Jones, who was linked to over 50 homicides, and Chester Campbell. If Blaze Marzette was the city’s first kingpin, then Chester Campbell was the city’s first true hitmen who worked as early as the 1950s.
- Mann of Jacksonville. In the 1980s, authorities said that Mann was involved in one of “the most significant crack cocaine operations” until his conviction during 1988 and being able to parole until the 2010s.
- 8Ball of Broward County. Throughout the 1990s, local law enforcement and federal DEA agents claim that 8Ball was distributing dozens of kilograms and profiting millions of dollars per month until his arrest during 1999.
Many have heard about the city’s cocaine cowboy days with the Cubans and Colombians, or even watched the fictional movie of Scarface, but there is another side of Dade County.
The most legendary community of Dade County was Liberty City, or just the City for short. In a legendary community comes legendary residents that come from the product of the infamous Pork N Beans Projects or stood along the well famous 15th Avenue, a strip that has its own separate reputation, good and bad. While producing many of talented people like Luke Skywalker, the City has also created a number of legends with other trades, legends like Big Ike, Deputy Dog, Murph, Convertible Burt, Bo Didley, Fonzo, the John Doe’s, and plenty of others who were around during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
- Brownlee of Opa Locka during the 80s and 90s had over a decade run holding the reign over Opa Locka and was one of the reasons that neighborhood known as the Triangle became about. He was known as the mayor of Opa Locka as he was considered as a local Robin Hood for the small Dade County community.
One of Florida’s most reputable neighborhoods, mainly for the wrong reasons, is Overtown. This large lower income community is filled with apartment buildings and complexes, while once being a thriving black community until the city’s urban renewal efforts destroyed much of the area. By the 1970s, the community of Overtown totally changed by entering a new era. This era helped create the likes of Bunky Brown and Vonda, Flower Man during the 1980s, and Big Bear, who was around during the 70s and half of the 80s until arrest after authorities claim he was involved in one of the state’s largest distribution rings.
Maybe the largest neighborhood of the Dade County ghettos is Carol City. While in the past few years people may have heard of the Murda Grove Boys in Carol City, but way before the modern day streets of Miami the neighborhood consisted of the Matchbox Projects, with some referring to the group of guys out the area as the Boobie Boys.
While the city of Atlanta and the streets of the A-Town often overlook other cities in the state, but Georgia has a number of legends and legendary communities. The city that originated gangbangin’ in the state is the city of Macon. While gangbangin’ mostly consists of petty crimes, there were a few, like J. Anderson, who worked their way into street stardom. Anderson was at his peaked during the rise of the crack era of the1980s as he was allegedly to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per week.
The city along the shore, nicknamed C-Port, has plenty of legends as Savannah had its moments of being more reputable than Atlanta or other southern cities. Names like Cunch, who was one of the first true kingpins in the city, or Lil Rick, who authorities claim during the 1990s he was responsible for leading a group of men that were some of the most violent in the city’s history. There may be no relation, but in the city of Savannah the Scott last name has produced many well reputable in the streets, with one being Zhackary who was big during the 1980s and federal indictments came down on him and his associates.
Harlem, New York
The mecca of all meccas, New York City’s underworld has been well publicized, whether it is through motion pictures, music, or books and magazines, there is much known about the streets of New York City.
The days where the Italian mafia was truly in control, New York City’s urban areas, primarily Harlem, had its own share of bosses like Stephanie St Clair (Madam Queen), Bumpy Johnson and Dillard “Red” Morrison. All would mainly be in charge of multiple rackets like running numbers, which is similar to the modern day’s lottery, and other hustles that were often popular during those days.
With the true arrival of heroin during the 1960s and 70s the neighborhood of Harlem was still ground zero, especially with the likes of Ike Atkinson, Pee Wee Kirkland, Frank Lucas, Nicky Barnes, Guy Fisher, the first black owner of the Apollo, and Frank Matthews, known as Black Caesar was probably the most legendary. Black Caesar with his international connections made millions of dollars and has allegedly kept the Italian Mob out of Harlem. After authorities caught up with him and arrested him during the early 1970s, he allegedly disappeared after posting bail and has not been seen since.
The crack era from the 1980s to the 1990s, while peaking between the late ‘85 and ’94, gave New York City is most violent times as hundreds of crews and blocks made thousands of dollars in almost every neighborhood of the city, including communities outside of Harlem. The money was so easy to be made that just about everyone hustling. The luxury cars, expense trips, large gold chains, this was the true money getting era of the city. Unfortunately, going into the late ‘90s and entering the 2000s the dope game was far from what it used to be and not nearly as lucrative as the 80s and early 90s, especially after major sentencing with many of the kingpins and big-time hustlers receiving sentences that ranged from 25 years to life.
The Mecca of all Meccas, during the 1980s, after the era of the heroin kingpins, the streets of Harlem saw a rise in individual kingpins who had crews to work under them. As police and federal agents began to crack down, by the mid-90s the kingpin model turned into a crew or clique of individuals, even though there were plenty exceptions.
Individuals: Azie Faison, Rich Porter, Gangsta Lou, Unique Hall, Fritz Simmons, Ms Tee, Kevin Chiles, Peter Shue, and many others.
CREWS: 112th Street No Fear, Same Gang, Red Top Crew, Yellow Top Crew, 139th and Lenox’ NFL Crew, 142nd Street Lynch (Simms brothers), and others.
Houston’s scene is much different. The culture of Houston is more laid back, under the radar, handle your business with class, aka the player way. Many legends like J. Cotton, the famous and often praised C. Blount, who both had their sentences commuted by President Obama, Smitty, K. Babin and others, all were allegedly tied into conspiracies and only were convicted through trial with one rarely taking a plea deal.
While old school Kingpins and players in the streets of the 1970s and 1980s are quite as familiar as other cities, one neighborhood that did standout was Wayne Miner. This high rise housing complex just minutes away from downtown Kansas City consisted of five buildings for low income families, from the early 1960s to the late 1980s. What was constructed to help families get on their feet quickly turned into the city’s most dangerous neighborhood as the majority of the homicides in the 1980s were in the Wayne Minor housing complexes.
Despite the destruction of the old Wayne Minor housing complex, which is around 12th Street, the area still remained reputable with the rise of the smaller housing complexes, like Parker Square. While being known for being affiliated with the Crips, the 12th Street area had another affiliations, which was the 5Ace2. The Five Ace Deuce was a connection between 12th and another notorious community, 51st Street.
Located on the South Side of Kansas City, 51st would be well known to the locals and to law enforcement. The community became so active that the local police even had to change their tactics and create a new police unit just combat their activity. The area nicknamed FOG Town, Five One Gangstas, would build a reputation behind the likes of people like Moody or a local rap legend by the name of Fat Tone, both have either suffer to being incarcerated or are deceased.
The city of Bloods and Crips has received most of its notoriety through Los Angeles’ gang culture, but historically the city has had a few legends that made millions in the streets.
Waterhead Bo. At a young age, with the help of a Colombian connection, Bo was able to conquer a legacy of being one of the largest West Coast kingpins of all time. Sentenced to life without parole after his run was tied into communities and people across the world, from United States to Latin America to even countries in Europe.
Freeway Ricky Ross. The country’s most famous kingpin who would later get involved in a government conspiracy with the CIA. The CIA would use Ross to help fund international conflicts through the sales of large amounts of cocaine.
Tootie Reese. One of the first kingpins in the city of Los Angeles as his reign was from the eras of the 1960s to the 1980s, the period before the arrival of crack cocaine.
Ray Ray Browning. Authorities claim that Browning distributed millions of dollars worth of narcotics monthly throughout the 70s and 80s, during a period where he constantly beat convictions on numerous felony charges, at least until 1988.
Compton Fink. One of Compton’s biggest kingpins as his connections were so big that he was able to bring enemy hoods and rival gangs together, at least temporarily.
Harry O. With deep ties to Suge Knight, Harry O would allegedly become a cofounder of Death Row records. It has been said that Harry O was very ambitious during the 1980s with his entrepreneurial skills that led to him to own numerous of properties and businesses before his conviction of the late 1980s.
Known as the 6th borough of New York, northern New Jersey had its moments despite during the time where the streets of New York City often overshadowed one of the largest Tri-State regions.
Wayne Akbar Pray. While in Harlem there were a number of kingpins and bosses that controlled the flow of the streets during the 60s and 70s, in the city of Newark there was Akbar Pray who reigned throughout the 70s and 80s until his arrest. Akbar Pray became extremely large and many people and neighborhoods throughout the city of Newark and nearby areas to have direct connections and ties with him, like the Prince Street Posse.
Zoo Crew. Arrested during the late 90s for allegedly conspiring to distribute over 100 kilograms, but despite what law enforcement claim the Zoo Crew is a widely known brand in Newark for creating programs and opening businesses that benefit the community.
Pops Bartlett. In the small city of Camden, just outside of Philadelphia, Bartlett had a nice run during the 1980s with ties to the Italian Mob. His run was ended after he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for distributing dozens of kilograms of heroin and made millions of dollars yearly.
E Port Posse and Pretlow Brothers. Just south of Newark was the small city of Elizabeth, known to many as Eastwick. While New York City and Newark individuals had their fame in the streets, the E Port Posse controlled large sections of North New Jersey during the 1980s.
Midget Molly of Atlantic City. One of the East Coast’s most profitable kingpins during the 1980s as the Sin City of the United States’ eastern seaboard was the home of operation that brought in hundreds of thousands weekly.
While the Steel City is more known for being one of the first cities on the East Coast to actually be involved in gang activity, with the likes of the Bloods, Crips, Convicts, and others, the city of Pittsburgh has had its moments of true street legends.
Cole, out of the area of Hazelwood, was said to have had made millions of dollars in over a decade, mainly through the 1990s and early 2000s, according to law enforcement who are known to exaggerate and informants who were looking for shorter prison sentences.
Around the late 1990s and early 2000s, the likes of O. Beasley and Chief were sentenced to life in prison for their reign on the city’s North Side, primarily the Perrysville area, after law enforcement had charged them with the distribution of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin over a five year period.
On the city’s North Side, a side that was once nicknamed the War Side for the battles between the Crips, the G’s and other local independent gangs, there was the Hoodtown Mafia. Allegedly with multiple connections from Mexico and Atlanta, their reign of the late 2000s, if not before, would profit millions until federal indictments during the 2010s ceased their existence.
Queens, New York
Between the end of the mid-20th Century (mid-1900s) and the beginning of late 20th Century, Jackson Heights gained a large Colombian immigrant population, along with other Latin America immigrants. With the arrival of immigrants, Colombians and the Cartel in particular, came much illicit activities in the large section of Queens. From money laundering operations to prostitution to heavy narcotics sales, the region of Jackson Heights, as well Corona was a haven during the 70s, 80s and 90s.
While the Jackson Heights region of Queens was a haven for Colombians, further south in areas like Hollis or South Jamaica were notorious for similar reasons, but much different. Colombians from Jackson Heights were not as well documented as the likes of Supreme and Prince, Fat Cat and Pappy Mason, the Feurtado Brothers, or J. Wall Corley.
Despite Queensbridge, Far Rockaway, or Lefrak City having their own reputation, the heart of Queens during the 1980s and 1990s was south of Jamaica Avenue, bounded by the Van Wyck and Cross Island Parkway. From violence to millions of dollars being profit was all centered around areas like South Jamaica or Hollis or along streets like Sutphin Blvd., Merrick Blvd., or Murdock Ave.
The gateway city has had a long history with activity in the streets, which included violence, drugs and local corruption. What some may not realize, at least outside of the city, that history dates back to the 1970s, the era of St Louis’ housing projects, drug wars and kingpins like R. Scott or N. Sledge, mainly through heroin.
A notorious public housing high rise complex that was centered along Cass Avenue is Pruitt Igoe. This complex became one of the country’s most notorious neighborhoods as the housing project was infamous for neglect, poverty and crime. While Pruitt Igoe was the most known, the entire Cass Avenue area was filled with low income housing complexes and was the center of the streets of St Louis during the 1970s, as well blocks around Delmar Boulevard like an area known as the Stroll (formerly around Sarah and Olive).
1. Lewis Bey. Leader of the Moorish Science Temple, he was alleged to control the vast majority of drugs being sold in St. Louis, at least for over a decade. Some may say a government conspiracy took him down, but everyone familiar with the Lewis Bey name gives the respect for the control he had in the streets.
2. Petty Boys/Brothers. The Petty Brothers street activity dates back to the 1960s, but their rise was through the 1970s in the JVL area, off of Cass Avenue. The Petty Brothers were often feared and were major in the streets of St. Louis during their time.
3. Haymon. A rival of the Petty Brothers was also well respected and ran an organization highly profitable during the 1970s as he was known to frequent the Carr Square and Vaughn housing project area before turning his life around after serving 25 years.
4. Fat Woods. Maybe the king of one of the country’s most infamous neighborhoods, Pruitt Igoe, or at least before it was demolished during the late 1970s as Fat Woods ran with the likes of Killer Earl and made thousands of dollars daily.
Ironically, the capital of the United States was also the murder capital of the United States as Washington DC was filled with a number of crews throughout the city, mostly during the 1980s and 1990s, to go with the infamous gangsters and kingpins that ran the former Chocolate City.
Rayful Edmund. With his Los Angeles and Colombian connections Rayful became one of the most lucrative kingpins on the East Coast until his downfall led to him becoming a cooperating witness.
Michael Fray. One of the most respected to ever hit the DC streets as his word meant a lot to DC’s urban communities. Truly an old school legend as his stance gave him longevity until his power would come to an end through a homicide.
Wayne Perry. The argument can be made that Wayne Perry was the East Coast’s most notorious killer, and most definitely Washington DC’s most feared. Outside of Wayne Perry, there was Shorty Pop. Much younger than Perry, Pop terrorized many in the streets as he came up in Southeast DC.
Big Boy. While authorities said he was the head of an organization that was responsible for millions of dollars of heroin during the 1970s, prosecutors were unable convict him of any of their drug conspiracy charges.
Gray. Throughout the 1990s, Gray and a small group of people were notorious, but somewhat under the radar, as authorities said that Gray had a record number of homicide charges.
As previously stated, there were a number of crews throughout the city, from Uptown to the Southeast, who posted on the corners or within the numerous apartment complexes and housing projects and created a very lucrative market, at least from the 1980s to the beginning of the 2000s. Below is just an example of how the streets were conducted amongst the crews, as there was probably close to hundred crews in the city at one point.
21st and Vietnam. One of DC’s most deadliest communities that is around the Carver and Langston Terrace housing complexes. With likes of the Wallace and Moore families this area built its reputation to becoming known as Little Vietnam, in an already notorious section with the help of the nearby M Street Crew, a violent crew known for PCP sales.
K Street. Probably the most infamous community of the Southwest, and the once home of Wayne Perry, as at one point most of SouthWest’s street activity was in the Greenleaf Gardens complex as federal indictments have indicated that throughout the 1990s murders and a daily profit of thousands of dollars from illicit sales plagued the area.
First and Kennedy, along one of Uptown’s most popular streets, Kennedy Street, was a section of the strip around 1st Street. Known for the Mowatt Brothers and others, this set of KDY (short for Kennedy) was often in conflict with other nearby blocks off of Kennedy Street.
There were numerous of other crews in areas like Trinidad and R Street, who both went up against Rayful Edmund, or in the city’s housing projects where there was constant friction, like Condon Terrace vs. Barry Farms, Simple City vs. Eastgate, Clay Terrace vs. Lincoln Heights or Huntwood vs 58th, which would contribute to much of the violence in the streets.
Washington Heights, New York (Manhattan):
A community of mainly Dominicans, along with Puerto Ricans and other Hispanic ethnicities, was notorious for being an open-air drug market during the 1980s and parts of the 1990s. People from all over the Tri-State area came into the Washington Heights neighborhood, especially at night as activities picked up where anyone can purchase anything.
In a community of apartment buildings, the ability to sell drugs in the open along short one-way streets were quite easy, especially with lookouts and having a true structure of using apartment buildings and their units for stash spots or to sell drugs out of. The likes of the Wild Cowboys or a crew of Dominicans with Jheri Curls dominated the area until the late 90s as the brazen drug selling was not as practiced as it once was.
*Feature Image Credit: KARNSTOCKS / Shutterstock.com
Barnes, Titus Lee. Drug Lords of Oakland. Createspace. 2018.
Goodyear, Charlie. “Drug Dealer in Vallejo Gets 110 to Lite”. SF Gate. 10 February 1988. https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Drug-Dealer-In-Vallejo-Gets-110-to-Life-3013756.php
Dash, Leon and Sheehan, Susan. “Two Brothers Grow Up on the Edge”. The Washington Post. 29 Nov. 1998. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/metro/longterm/wallace/wallace1129.htm
Decker, Theodore. “Reining in the Short North Posse”. The Columbus Dispatch. 31 January 2015. https://www.dispatch.com/article/20150131/NEWS/301319814
Dehnel, Chris. “Former NYC ‘Gangster Cop’ Facing Charges in Connecticut”. Patch. 27 April 2017. https://patch.com/connecticut/vernon/former-nyc-gangster-cop-facing-charges-connecticut
Ferranti, Seth. “Holding Down the Neighborhood”. GorillaConvict.com, 28 October 2011 https://www.gorillaconvict.com/2011/10/holding-down-the-neighborhood-2/
Fisher, Ian. “A Window on Immigrant Crime; In Jackson Heights, Drugs, Dirty Money and Prostitution”. New York Times. 17 June 1993. https://www.nytimes.com/1993/06/17/nyregion/window-immigrant-crime-jackson-heights-drugs-dirty-money-prostitution.html?searchResultPosition=1
Ford, Andrea and Tobar, Hector. “Two Receive Life in Prison Without Parole in Drug Case : Crime: They were key figures in a ring that linked Colombian cocaine lords to Los Angeles street gangs.” Los Angeles Times. 27 November 1990. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1990-11-27-me-5446-story.html
Kerr, Peter. “Washington Heights: Cocaine Trade Thrives”. New York Times. 1 April 1986. https://www.nytimes.com/1986/04/01/nyregion/washington-heights-cocaine-trade-thrives.html?searchResultPosition=3
Kerr, Suzy. “Death Row Records Co-Founder Michael ‘Harry O’ Harris Will Be Released From Prison After 31 Years Behind Bars”. Celebrity Insider. 15 August 2019. https://celebrityinsider.org/death-row-records-co-founder-michael-harry-o-harris-will-be-released-from-prison-after-31-years-behind-bars-311678/
Khalid, S.M. “Risky Business: Major Drug Dealers are Getting Younger”. The Baltimore Sun. 27 October 1991. https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1991-10-27-1991300084-story.html
Kim, T.K. “The Crackdown A massive drug bust didn’t stop the violence in Superior-St. Clair”. Cleveland Scene, 13 June 2007. https://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/the-crackdown/Content?oid=1498851
Miller, Bill. “D.C. Drug Lord Had 15 Killed, U.S. Charges”. The Washington Post. 10 May 2000. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2000/05/10/dc-drug-lord-had-15-killed-us-charges/a8c32c9b-0e39-4ef7-9125-9e1e9a5c6c1b/
“Muslim leader Sentenced to Life on Drug and Murder Charges” AssociatedPress, 25th September 1993, https://apnews.com/f59a8d89dd8386809f0164ed866fab91
Ove, Torsten. “Suspected coke ring leader started dealing in sixth grade” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 4 March 2018. https://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2018/03/04/Suspected-coke-ring-leader-Don-Juan-Mendoza-started-dealing-in-sixth-grade/stories/201803040086
Ove, Torsten. “Family Store’ drug lord to spend rest of life in prison” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 22 July 2003. http://old.post-gazette.com/localnews/20030722beasley0722p4.asp
Santana, Arthur and Miller, Bill. “D.C. Man Convicted of 9 Gang Murders”. The Washington Post. 15 August 2001. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2001/08/15/dc-man-convicted-of-9-gang-murders/d6917a7a-5d22-4c75-ac86-298a93d4ed0a/
Shaffer, Cory. “Notorious Cleveland street gang connected to barber shop killings in Warrensville Heights”. Cleveland.com, 5 March 2015. https://www.cleveland.com/metro/2015/03/cleveland_gang_connected_to_wa.html
Stewart, Robert. “Jury Convicts Cocaine Kingpin of 43 Felonies”. Los Angeles Times. 16 June 1988. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1988-06-16-me-6748-story.html
Taylor, Goldie. “Goldie Taylor—The Search for My Father’s Killer”. Daily Beast. 12 July 2017. https://www.thedailybeast.com/goldie-taylorthe-search-for-my-fathers-killer
Walker, Thaai. “Drug Kingpin’s Sentencing Ends Bloody Era in Oakland / Decades of turf wars over as citizens reclaim their city”. SF Gate. 16 February 1999. https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Drug-Kingpin-s-Sentencing-Ends-Bloody-Era-in-2946651.php
York, Michael. “5 CONVICTED IN R STREET DRUG TRIAL”. The Washington Post. 22 July 1992. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1992/07/22/5-convicted-in-r-street-drug-trial/a48bc2b5-cf43-4c5a-8f48-efb741a07e51/
Zicari, Peter. “’Dirty 30′ gang leader sentenced to 24 years in prison”. Cleveland.com, 30 March 2007. https://www.cleveland.com/metro/2007/03/dirty_30_gang_leader_sentenced.html