The Business Secrets of Drug Dealing tells the story of a hyper-observant, politically-minded, but humorously pragmatic weed dealer who has spent a working life compiling rules for how to a) make money and b) avoid prison.
Each rule shapes a chapter of this fast-paced outlaw tale, all delivered in Huey’s deliciously trenchant argot. Here are a few of them:• No guns but keep shooters.• Stay behind the white guy.• Don’t snitch.• Always have a job.• Be multi-sourced.• Get your money and get out.
Part edge-of-the-seat suspense story, part how-to manual in the tradition of The Anarchist Cookbook, The Business Secrets of Drug Dealing is as scintillating as it is subversive. Just reading it feels illegal.
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Chapter Seven:Embrace Racial Stereotypes
Here’s how you rig a cross-country load. It’s four cars:
You want two cars in front, one car in the back, with a load in between. Same principle as in the wild. Buffalo and zebras travel in packs, too. There’s strength in numbers.
And here’s the other advantage we have: we know police profile. We use it against them. That’s an important rule: Embrace racial stereotypes.
In business, racism is your friend. If you master the nuances of it, you will prevail. Race is everything in America, especially in law enforcement.
If you’re one Black guy driving from California to anywhere east, you’re going to be stopped. A Black man behind the wheel looks out of place anywhere west of Chicago, really. So use that to your advantage.
The guy driving that first car in the parade, the dummy car, we want him to be a caricature. We want him wilding out. We want a fucking criminal. We want in baggy pants with a hat turned sideways and tats and a record as long as his arm. We want him to be filthy.
The idea is for the cops to pull him over and say, “Son, what are you doing out here?”
The second car is the buffer. He’s watching to make sure that the cops don’t profile someone else, keeping an eye out, making sure that the guy behind him is safe.
You don’t really need that second car. It costs more and doesn’t do anything specific other than add a set of eyes. But it’s an extra buffer, one more layer of confusion for authorities. Three cars is too few, five cars is too expensive. But four is perfect.
The third car is the load. He’s carrying the shit in the trunk. That’s a rule: No drugs inside the passenger area of a car. A corollary to that is, Always drive a car with a trunk. No SUVs. No Muranos. None of that. An ordinary boring sedan with a trunk.
The search and seizure rules dictate these rules. Cops can’t say they saw a suitcase full of weed in plain view. They need a reason to open that trunk, and if you play it right, you never give that to them.
One of the reasons for that is the fourth car. He stays tight behind the load car, so police can’t get directly behind him. He’s getting in the way, so they can’t run plates easily. He’s running interference.
Rule: every time you enter a state, change out your cars. Rule: drive rentals but make sure you’ve got in-state plates as often as possible. Iowa cars in Iowa, Colorado cars in Colorado. And so on. And you don’t stop except to sleep and go to the bathroom.
But the key is that first car. Your dummy car needs to be a real fuckup. He’s gotta be conspicuous. It’s the others who need to keep their heads.
Late December, 2015, Oakland, California. I’ve been sending loads out of state fifty pounds at a time from the different farms. Two suitcases of 25 pounds apiece in the trunk of every third car is standard. Caravans to different states: some to the Pacific Northwest, some to the Midwest, and some all the way east.
The first few loads were all right. Then on the third load I broke one my rules. Hell, even Biggie said it:
This rule is so underrated;
Keep your business and your family separated.
In the movies, you often see mobsters working together in family businesses. But family members in real life are liabilities. You can’t walk away from a family member. Not easy to have one’s legs broken, either. Once family members get inside the tent, they’re hard to remove.
I had a cousin named Buddy. His real name was Darnell, but people in his neighborhood started calling him Buddy after this ugly, flea-infested dog he had. I swear to god that dog had more sores than hair, more fleas than follicles. People started busting on him about that dog, naming him after it.It caught on. At first Buddy didn’t like it, then he did.
He was out of St. Louis, the son of my aunt Sonja, my father’s sister. Aunt Sonja treated me like a son of her own. Whenever I was in town, she’d drop everything to make me catfish. We were tight, which is why I made a mistake and brought in her son.
Buddy was a street dealer out there, a younger guy. He thought he was a real dealer until he met me. Then he saw what real money and real product looked like.
Buddy didn’t have a clue what he was doing. He didn’t know how many grams there were in an ounce, how many ounces in a pound. He didn’t know the difference between profit and loss.
You might think I’m kidding. Who doesn’t know the difference between a profit and a fucking loss? But a lot of guys are like that. Buddy thought he knew how to sell weed. But I had to teach him everything, beginning with how to keep a ledger and how to tell if you’re actually making money.
Then I let him in. I figured, well, he’s doing it on the streets, I’ll just level him up a little. Before I knew it, he’d skipped a couple rungs on the ladder. Made him overconfident. I couldn’t keep eyes on him in where he lived, but he was acting like a big fish there, shouting his name to the rooftops, which is what you don’t want to do.
But then all these California farmers got in this situation, and I suddenly had to unload a lot of product. I had no choice. St. Louis was a market I knew I needed.
I called my cousin.
Buddy shows up at the airport. He’s wearing jewelry, necklaces, the whole thing, conspicuous.
I don’t do that. I wear a nice polo, a nice pair of jeans, clean shoes. They don’t have to be gym shoes, they can be Sperry or whatever.
That’s a rule: Dress like an off-duty Applebee’s waiter. I know what that looks like, because, after all, I’ve worked at Applebee’s. I make even shitty jobs like that work for me. Experience is my education and education is my advantage.
Also, when you get pulled over – and you’ll get pulled over, because police profile – you must talk in complete sentences, like a college man, never acting like you’re in a hurry. Tell the cop a story about getting home to your parents, a fiancée, kids. Be friendly. They can’t handle that shit.
When Buddy showed up, I worried right away he was going to be a problem. He’d been busted for dealing a few times, and with his record and appearance, he should have been the front car.
But he didn’t want to play the bait role. He thought he was too big time for that, even though he was still only twenty-four. He insisted on being in charge, in the rear car.
We were packing up the caravan and I could see Buddy smoking a joint in the front seat of his car, right out there on the streets of Oakland, before he started driving. When I looked to see where he put his stash, he’d stuck it in a little gym bag in the back seat.
“Buddy,” I said. “What the fuck did I tell you about keeping shit inside the car? You want to carry weed, it’s gotta be in the trunk.”
He smiled, picked up the gym bag, opened the door, and slid out of the car. Then he went to the back of the vehicle – a white Chevy Cruze, my favorite road car, dullest vehicle there is – and calmly stuck his bag in the trunk, on top of our suitcases packed with tree.
“No problem,” he said. “I got you.”
“Try to lay off the weed while you drive,” I said. “If you get pulled over, even if you toss the joint, the smell can be probable cause. And don’t pull over for any reason.”
“Huey, it’s not my first drive.”
The load car was to be driven by another friend of his, from St. Louis I think. He was practically a high school kid, someone I didn’t know, by the name of Andre.
The two front cars were to be driven by my people, Alysha and Reece, from Seattle. Reece was my dummy car guy. He hadn’t been arrested in ten years, but he looked the part and knew how to play the role. Bandana, jewelry, tats, the whole deal. He was half Native American, but looked all the way Black. I could see he was looking at Buddy with concern.
“We’re off, H,” he said to me.
“Alright,” I said. “Good luck.”