Tricks of the trade
Gangs, Inc., comprises many money-making ventures, including ripping off drug houses, ripping off drug dealers, stealing cars and then selling the hot-box parts to chop shops, and, according to a police source, a small gun-rental operation, where the rentee puts down $100 and receives the use of a gun for two, three hours and this warning: "Fuck the no-deposit, no-return. You better bring it back on time."
But the major money-making stronghold remains the sale of drugs. Coke, herb, smack, crack. Mostly crack. "Crack is such a lucrative business, man, there really isn't too much else you got to fucking do," says one cop.
The gangs have various ways of doing business. Intervale members, for example, will pool their money, copy together, push the drugs on the street, and then split the profits, according to one police source. In the case of the gang on Copeland Street, one of the hottest crack dealerships in the city, three mid-level guys might throw in $1000 apiece, cop $3000 worth of powder, cook it up into $10,000 worth of crack, and then each distribute $3333 worth of product and keep his own profit. One of the Copeland mid-level guys, call him Hack, has three or four guys pushing his product. For every $100 worth of jums (packs of crack) they sell, says the police source, they get to keep maybe $30, $40. Usually it's the fringe players, wanna-bes and the younger guys out there doing the 8 am-to-4 am shift. By the time a kid reaches the age of 15, he starts to figure that with the $300 he makes from Hack he can buy his own stuff. Then he gets his buddies selling for him, and he's become a junior partner in the firm. Which is how Hack, now in his late teens, started his drug career. Currently on his way to membership in the misfortune 500, he's able to buy $2000, $30000 worth of coke at a time.
The cocaine powder is purchased in New York or locally from Dominican, Colombian, and other drug dealers. The coke is converted to rock in crack kitchens throughout the city. A growing number of local gangs, police sources say, are now buying their product off reputed drug kingpin Darryl Whiting, whose alleged operation has a major selling point, where it reportedly delivers the crack already produced.
At sidewalk level, the gangs' distribution and defense networks are a mix of state-of the-art electronic gizmos and basic street savvy. According to sources, most of the gangs use a system whereby the customer pays one kid, who checks the money to see if it's real, takes the order, and directs the client down the block to the delivery person, to whom he sends hand signals indicating how much crack the basehead wants. One street worker reports that some gangsters even carry little cards with them that have the sign-language alphabet drawn out, just in case they have to ad-lib a silent message.