My goal was to just get in there, get someone to sell to me, and get out. This would set up my future deals by allowing me to drop a name, or for me to be recognized as at least having been there before.
We entered the neighborhood from the south. Of the two heavily monitored and guarded entrances, this would be the quickest route to the target. Bug pulled to the curb at the northwest corner of Belzise Terrace and Talton Street. From the front passenger seat, I could see about four gangbangers just to the north of us in a vacant lot. They were dressed in baggy jeans, tatted to the nines, and sported Crip blue and orange. I began to signal them to come over to the car. Just then Bug spotted a familiar Firebird.
“Hold up Tee! I think that’s BeeBee’s girlfriend in the Firebird.”
“Are you sure, man? Think we can make a little convo?”
“Damn sure gonna try,” Bug exclaimed enthusiastically.
I must admit that though I was optimistic, I didn’t expect such a lucky break so soon. BeeBee was a direct descendant of the Douglas family and controlled the south side of the dope business in the Fish Bowl. He had been “down” (to prison) a few times on narcotics trafficking, theft and assault charges. He was rumored to be involved in a number of shootings. Most recently he, along with two CRIP cohorts, jumped out on a few Bloods and opened fire. Both of the Bloods escaped and survived. This would certainly mean BeeBee would be on edge that much more, so I would have to be particularly careful. This could be a huge break for me, to nab one of my upper-echelon targets, if I could work this the right way.
We pulled forward and flagged the Firebird down. As the driver parked the car and approached, the gangbangers from the lot formed a loose circle around us and looked around for cops. The driver of the Firebird was a chick and she walked right up to my window and peered inside suspiciously. She looked to be about 5-foot-2 and all of 100 pounds, with tattoos exposed about her skimpy tank top and mini skirt. I also noticed she had BeeBee’s name tattooed on her leg. She had the look I can only describe as pretty, but worn, if that makes any sense. She acknowledged Bug with a simple nod. But having only seen him before, and not me, she was very cautious.
“I heard BeeBee’s girl drives that Firebird,” I said.
“Yeah, I’m BeeBee’s girl.”
“I’m Tee and this is Bug.”
“Candy,” she responded suspiciously, then paused. “Is you the po-lice?”
Now these are times when those action movies work to my advantage. Bad guys in those movies imply that if you ask an undercover cop if he is the police, he is bound by law to answer you truthfully. I love this, because this idea is not only wrong, but since she doesn’t know that, I’ll make a little headway with her when I assure her I am certainly not the po-lice.
“Hail, no,” I said, “but I was just about to ask you that same question. You just don’t see pretty ladies out slingin’ “work” (dope to resell) too often. You really with BeeBee? I’ve been burned before and I ain’t lookin’ for no trouble.” I blasted her with counter-questioning to keep her off-balance.
“Shit, you ain’t gotta worry bout me. Everybody here knows me,” she said.
I told her that Bug “hustled” (sold dope) for me, that I was scoring some work for him, and that he had asked me to come along because he said this might eventually be a good spot where I could score.
She proceeded to ask me where I was from, why she hadn’t seen me around before, how I knew Bug, and whose car we were in. Typically, I don’t tolerate shakedowns, but it seemed as though the more questions she asked, the more the questions seemed to become part of a casual conversation as opposed to an inquisition. I dropped Bunnyman’s name and avoided details in my answers. Anytime you get too detailed, you appear to be trying too hard. Even worse, you could trip yourself up in a lie.
Finally, I told her we needed to score some “hard” (crack cocaine) for Bug. She was still suspicious but asked me how much we wanted. I told her to just get Bug what he needed for now and passed the deal to him. I told her if everything went well, I would return. This kept me from appearing too anxious and solidified my purported suspicion of her.
“Wait here,” she said as she went across the street and into an older, refurbished house on the corner with the “hood-standard” chain-link fence in the front.
While we waited, I eyed the bangers around our car. I needed them to see me so they would later recognize me, but I didn’t want them to see me staring back at them. I put on my sunglasses and watched them in the side-view mirror. When you check your surroundings in a deal like this you are forced to use creative ways to observe such as mirrors, car or window reflections. I was watching one particular guy, who seemed to be trying to quietly communicate with the others as he made his way around to the rear of our car.
Bug and I glanced at each other and confirmed we were both seeing the same thing. I was at the ready for a robbery at this point. The guy lifted his t-shirt just enough to expose a silver semi-automatic pistol tucked into his pants. No time for waiting – I reacted. I threw my hands into the air, turned around, looked out the window at him angrily and exclaimed, “What’s up?” I heard Bug utter the words “Oh, no” under his breath. Usually it was Bug acting foolish while I shook my head, but not this time. Bug got particularly nervous because he was unarmed, but those are the rules of this game. Besides, Bug is a convicted felon and isn’t allowed to carry a firearm. This move was necessary, though. I had to let these guys know I was not a pushover. Besides, what kind of “big-time dope dealer” lets people intimidate and disrespect him like this, anyway?
No sooner had I reacted then this guy pulled the gun, set it next to his side, and started in toward my window asking, “Want some of this?” Immediately I unsheathed my revolver from under my leg. One of the guys standing in front of our car raised an open hand up to his partner as if to tell him to stop, then said, “It’s cool, put that shit up!” He must have seen the potential profits in me.
He had just nipped a potential bloodbath in the bud. He smirked, put his gun away and walked off. I just sighed, rolled my eyes, and set my pistol between my legs just in case. I turned and looked at Bug. He had been staring at me for a solid minute now with that look in his eye, a look that said “You son of a…You just scared the piss out of me, but I’m not going to show it right now.”
“I got your back, bro,” I assured him.
I calmly got out of the car and hollered to the biggest guy there, “Say, I ain't lookin’ for trouble here, man. We are just tryin’ to get a little work done. Is this business in this hood?” I asked.
“Naw, dude, we’re straight. Get this done. He’s just showin’ off anyway.”
I knew neither of us needed it to go south this early. That was for sure.
As Candy came out, I thought I was going to choke on my own spit. I see, walking directly behind her, a tall, dark-skinned, 220-pound gang banger with a long “Ben Wallace” afro sticking straight up in the air. He was cut, tatted from head to toe, and wearing Dickey pants and tennis shoes with no shirt. It was BeeBee. They walked up and leaned in Bug’s window as we introduced ourselves. I was shocked that he had come out but I knew we were being scoped. Candy needed a second opinion.
BeeBee motioned for Candy to get the money. Candy walked around to my window and I gave her my money. I instructed her to hand the dope to Bug. She knew the game. If he worked for me, then he was the one who’d move the stuff. After she handed it over, we examined it closely and suspiciously. I asked her for a weight.
“It’s straight-drop,” BeeBee snapped.
Basically, straight-drop is cocaine that is cooked into crack without using any cut or additive to increase the bulk and weight. This was a preference on the street for users since the high was even more intense. But it was a rarity because it was expensive. In other words, BeeBee had the good stuff, so the weight was less important.
“OK then, we’re straight,” I told him. “If it really is drop, I’m sure I’ll be rolling through again.”
I looked at this deal as a test for both of us. I could now holler at Candy for more business if the dope was good. As Bug drove us away, I was grinning ear-to-ear.
“What’cha thinkin’ about, Tee?”
“I’m thinkin’ we are some lucky fools. You ready to turn over the next card?”
Bug just grinned.
Operation Fish Bowl was under way.
Life in the Fish Bowl: The true story of how a white cop infiltrated and took down 41 of the nation's most notorious CRIP's can be purchased here.