Here and There: Crack Cocaine in the 80s
Money isn’t everything,
Money can’t buy you happiness,
Money can’t buy you love,
If I had a dime for every time you lied to me; I’d be rich!
However, the more appropriate term would be; If I saved a dime every time you lied to me, I’d be rich!
Where I came from money was scarce. I was a Crip gang member on the streets of Southeast San Diego, and spent most of my life in and out of the prison system. I basically “aged out” of that life after several trips to some of the most notorious and violent maximum security prisons in the state of California.
The streets were just as mean as the prisons were back then.
In 1985, crack cocaine hit Southeast San Diego with a vengeance. The Crip and Blood gangs became divided by users and dealers. The dealers looked down on the users. They drove shiny cars, and wore flashy jewelry as status symbols and validation. Gang newcomers that sold crack took seniority over veteran gangsters who smoked it. Addiction was indeed powerful, but the entire game basically boiled down to “the have’s and have not”. The same as it is in the real world.
Business savvy dealers without gang ties recruited young gang members to sell for them. This merge was in the best interest of the dealer, as it allowed him to peddle his wares in once high-restricted areas. It also acted as a security blanket, because robbing him was then equal to robbing the gang members who worked for him. Once recruited, the gang members naturally protected the hand that fed them. Influence was gained by manipulating the dollar in poverty-stricken communities in this way.
Contrary to popular belief, gang-related homicides decreased considerably during this time. Most incidents of violence occurred over gangs selling on rival territories, rather than just being there. Money matters simply out-weighed gang affairs.
During these times, crack dealers made hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet their ability to manage it wisely was very unsuccessful. Most of them were ghetto-fabulous, but not business-wise. They had no prior business experience. No business or real estate investments here. They spent most of their profit accumulating material possessions, and lavish night-life expenditures with women. They had no bank accounts or legally protected assets. All of their cash was eventually seized in major undercover drug bust operations carried out by (paid) informants. It came down to MONEY.
In the end, most of the dealers received lengthy sentences in state or federal prison facilities. But the users actually made out better. After being placed into rehab facilities due to arrests for drug use and possession, they eventually overcame their addictions. Many are now drug counselors in the very recovery centers they once resided in.
I don’t know many people that are in the drug game now. But if I SAVED a dime for every user and dealer that I personally knew back then; I’d be rich!