It’s not often we hear from the people that provided that little doorway to the alternative sphere where music sounds just a little bit better or you feel just a bit more confident. We all know drugs is a big part of the music industry, from the weed smoking rappers to the coke sniffing managers, and we all have our preference in how to make our nights even better.
We tracked down someone that has been in the drug business for years, not one of the guys in the corners of the club or in that flat you visit before hitting the bar, no, this is the guy that you don’t see but you know he is the reason behind that white lines that some really enjoy, so because we like to give every angle of the scene, but also because we are curious about his story, we chat to an ex London coke dealer.
Vito (not his real name) is 31 today and he is currently living in Madrid, not by choice but due to deportation after spending two years in HMP Wormwood Scrubs in West London, not one of the worst places but defiantly not of the nicer facilities where to do your time. He’s rolling a joint as we talk to him on Skype, and he’s very relaxed talking about the previous eight years as a London drug dealer. He don’t seem to be bitter about what went wrong or where he is at the moment, and he is very open to the questions we ask, let’s find out where the white going some people noses comes from…
“Drugs makes the world go round babe, and of course it brings you money if you play the game right.”
We start by talking about how and why it all started, and he laughs and says nonchalant “Drugs makes the world go round babe, and of course it brings you money if you play the game right.” Vito came over to London in the early 2000, he’s originally from a Mediterranean European country and he decided to relocate to the UK mostly for work but also to improve his English. “It didn’t really go to plan… I didn’t speak a word of English when I arrived and I ended up living with a few friends that where all in the same situation, so we just wasted our time talking our own language and getting stoned every day. One month turned in to three, and my money started running out. Naturally I started going clubbing as soon as arrived, the clubs over here are amazing compared to back home, and I met a lot of friend’s trough the music. I was just smoking weed back then, but just after a few nights out I got really in to pills and coke, and I guess that’s where most of my money went. “
Vito’s story is not unusual, there are a lot of young people arriving to the UK and either they like it or not they easily end up being segregated with people from back home, and it’s not a good situation if your goal is to improve a second language and embrace a new culture. “I was talking to my friends about the money situation, and we all agreed on that it would be better to buy larger amounts of drugs as the dealer would provide us with better stuff, especially coke, at a better price. We could then split it up in to smaller pieces and sell to the rest of the flat mates and make our money back or at least cover the cost of our on nights out, so we did. We paid £50 for a full gram of uncut coke, well he said uncut, if we bought 10 grams. Remember this was 10 years ago and the prices were still low, so we paid £50 for 1.00 and we sold half for £30 so we made some money.”
The price for a piece of coke in London is currently on average between £60- £70 if you buy one single piece, but one piece does not always mean one gram and most of the time the weight is maximum 0.70g, the dealers says the price is high due to the stuff being uncut and pure, and the price is known to sometime go as high as £110. Over the last years the import of coke to London has been noticeably reduced and this can also be one of the reasons for the increase in price. Vito tell us there used to be regular boat deliveries coming in to Brighton, but the police and coastguard has worked hard to increase the surveillance of the UK beaches and sea borders, managing to reduce the shipments by their efforts.
“What started as 10 grams a week soon turned in to ounces?”
Vito continue talking about how his house mates soon become regular customers and what started as 10 grams a week soon turned in to ounces. “The more I bought the better price I got, simple as. By chance one day when arriving at my dealer house his “boss” was there, so I took the opportunity to introduce myself and he offered me a deal- to work with them. It took me a few years to get in to the inner circle, in the begging I was just a delivery driver, picking up and dropping off, so I still kept my own customer circle, but everything I bought came from my boss.”
“I made a name for myself as I always kept the coke clean, I never mixed it. I sold smaller pieces at a higher price, but it was always good stuff. I didn’t go myself to sell in the clubs; I didn’t see the point as bigger deliveries and pickups was safer. It’s stupid to risk getting caught in a club by a blown up bouncer when you have an organization behind you, but I did provide to the guys that do go to the clubs. I think there is a business for coke in the clubs, more now than a few years back, but people seem to prefer to organize their bamba from a known contact before going out then to buy in the club. Which is understandable thinking about the shit they seem to mix it whit now a days…”
Common mixers by the people he supplied to back then use to be creatine, dextrosol, pro-plus or bicarbonate soda, these things are not harmful for you, but of course not meant to be sniffed up your nose. Today Vito have heard stories of people scraping paint off the walls, crushing paracetamol or mixing coke with meow meow. Vito is sure the motive is greed, as no one wants to provide an addition to a great night anymore; today it’s all about making money.
The organization Vito talks about is a network of dealers, there is the top man; he is the man with the connection to the supplier abroad, the import and general organization. He is providing to the second grade dealers and they in their case have their own guys they are selling it on to, third grade, they are the ones you most likely buy from if you have your regular connection. The guys you find in the clubs, if you are unlucky are people five or six levels down, and you never know how my times your product have been blended.
“The lead singer in the band was making some lines in the kitchen when he shouted across the flat “Mum do you want a line?”
Vito says in some networks where there is more than three steps (even though it’s rare) normally means the stuff will be cut to less than 30% of its original state. “I grew to become very close to my boss and he even stayed with me when spending time in the UK, he was traveling left, right and center, always on the move for the best deals and best products. By now, after 5 years, we were buying kilos, but still at high cost, we paid normally around £38 per gram, but this stuff was straight of the boat from Bolivia. We went to pick it up in the north of UK or sometimes from the hidden hippie and gypsie communities all over the country, there was a massive traffic of drugs flowing in to the UK via boat, air or post…it was much easier to find good quality than expected to be honest, this was 6 years ago.”
Vito had some great years during his involvement with the organization; making good money, driving nice cars and living in a nice house in West London. “I met some crazy people while working, a lot of high profile managers for top restaurants, a few models and I also use to have a big gay client base. I remember two of them were singers in a 80’s pop group and had also made some recent hits, for their launch party I brought them something to their flat in Soho, and the lead singer in the band was making some lines in the kitchen when he shouted across the flat “Mum do you want a line?” and in comes this old lady, dressed up for a night out and start taking coke with her son, it was mental. But fun!
“They use to have some crazy parties, and it’s great, because the drug dealer is always invited!” Vito was supporting his mum back home and he also had a girlfriend that didn’t work, but slowly things started to go downhill. “ I didn’t realize that I was starting to take coke every day, I was becoming an addict and so were my friends and my girlfriend. It was always there in front of me, and even though I still went out, socialized, paid my bills and so on, I was a coke addict. And even though I was moving kilos the money never seem to be enough and I became less careful in my movements, and in the connections I was making. I needed to make more money faster every time, and at some point I spoke with the wrong person and my organization got eyes on us.”
Vito and three people from his organization got arrested in the winter 2010; a police raid of 20 men strong raided his house, his storage and his friends’ house at the same time. They found a large supply of class A and B drugs, money and false ID’s. Vito got charged with ‘conspiracy with intent to supply class A drugs’ and spent two years locked up in the UK before being given the choice to leave the country If he agrees not come back, even for holiday, for 10 years. “It was an easy choice, I love London, but I knew there was no point spending another couple of year locked up there just to come out to go back in the game again. I rather take the opportunity to chance my life and start fresh somewhere else. So here I am, living an honest life free of drugs.” He says taking a drag of his joint. “I lost my friends, my house, my girlfriend, two corvettes and £100K, but I got my freedom back and I’m not a coke addict anymore. But I also learned that the people that are depending on you, like my boss and other people in the organization are not your friends.”
“When something like that happens everyone will try their best to save their own ass, which is something I’m happy to have experienced as it has thought me to know my friends from my work mates. When I speak to people that are still in the same business, or even just using coke, I feel sad as it’s not the same anymore. Apparently the quality is low, the price is high and everyone is dealing.”
“There is no honour in the industry and everything is all about making more and more money, and they don’t seem to care if they kill someone doing so. Pills, coke, meow meow, it’s all the same, but if you buy something you should get what you ask for. I would never start selling drugs again; firstly as I don’t want to go back to goal, but secondly as it seem much harder and more heartless today than 5, 6 years ago. I use to be proud of my product, and my customer appreciated me for that, I had different boxes with different types of coke inside and I use to give them names. I remember once had a delivery which had been emerged in a t-shirt, and after extorting the product the coke had still taken colour of the t-shirt, it was bright blue, and my friends still talk about the nights we had chatting shit on the “smurf coke”, I know it’ stupid, but that’s what it’s about, creating memories.”