by Marc Olden

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A meticulous account of the greatest drug scourge the country has ever seen

Before crack, there was cocaine. In 1972, New Yorkers bought more powdered cocaine than heroin, and they paid dearly for it. Pimps, rock stars, UN delegates, and high school students all turned on with snow. Some used casually, and some threw their lives away for its fleeting high. The drug’s devotees showed their allegiance with a golden coke spoon necklace—a sign of the wealth required to maintain a habit when the drug sold for as much as seventy-five dollars a hit. They used it to party, to work, and to have sex. They snorted it, shot it, and rubbed it on their gums. And more and more, they killed and died for the sake of the priceless white powder.

In this staggering exposé, Marc Olden gets to the heart of New York’s cocaine underworld, painting an exhaustive picture of the drug’s effects on society—from the highest highs to the lowest lows.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781453259894
Publisher: Road
Publication date: 07/17/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 172
Sales rank: 691,033
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Marc Olden (1933–2003) was the author of forty mystery and suspense novels. Born in Baltimore, he began writing while working in New York as a Broadway publicist. His first book, Angela Davis (1973), was a nonfiction study of the controversial Black Panther. In 1973 he also published Narc, under the name Robert Hawke, beginning a hard-boiled nine-book series about a federal narcotics agent. 

A year later, Black Samurai introduced Robert Sand, a martial arts expert who becomes the first non-Japanese student of a samurai master. Based on Olden’s own interest in martial arts, which led him to the advanced ranks of karate and aikido, the novel spawned a successful eight-book series. Olden continued writing for the next three decades, often drawing on his fascination with Japanese culture and history. 

Marc Olden (1933–2003) was the author of forty mystery and suspense novels. Born in Baltimore, he began writing while working in New York as a Broadway publicist. His first book, Angela Davis (1973), was a nonfiction study of the controversial Black Panther. In 1973 he also published Narc, under the name Robert Hawke, beginning a hard-boiled nine-book series about a federal narcotics agent.

A year later, Black Samurai introduced Robert Sand, a martial arts expert who becomes the first non-Japanese student of a samurai master. Based on Olden’s own interest in martial arts, which led him to the advanced ranks of karate and aikido, the novel spawned a successful eight-book series. Olden continued writing for the next three decades, often drawing on his fascination with Japanese culture and history. 

Read an Excerpt


By Marc Olden Road Integrated Media

Copyright © 1973 Marc Olden
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-5989-4


"In the narcotics trade, the seller is afraid of the buyer and the buyer is afraid of the seller. There's a certain criminal element [who go] around posing as traffickers, or [who,] if they don't have the merchandise, wouldn't hesitate to kill for the money."

—Daniel P. Casey, Regional Director of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (New York, New Jersey).


As of October 1972, there was more of it on New York City streets than heroin.

It travels under many aliases. C., Cecil, the leaf, dynamite, flake, speedball (when mixed with heroin and injected), girl, happy dust, joy powder, white girl, gold dust, Corine, heaven dust, paradise, Carrie, Cholly.

Sometimes called "The Lady."

Mostly called coke. The demand for this white powder has made it the hottest item in the lucrative business of illegal drugs.

Result: a multi-million dollar business, and violence and treachery comparable to gang warfare during prohibition.

Who's sniffing cocaine? Who's snorting?

Rock stars, their managers, record producers. Pimps, whores, their customers. Professional athletes, assorted television personalities, film editors, actors, actresses, directors, producers. Soul singers, symphonic musicians, dancers, choreographers. Bankers, corporation lawyers, accountants, magazine editors, novelists, UN delegates, college and high school students. Jazz musicians and press agents and businessmen and real estate brokers and respectable women.

Also cocaine dealers themselves are using. Heroin dealers, as a rule, leave their product alone. Coke dealers enjoy getting high on coke.

Anything is used to get the white powder up into the nose. Coke spoons, straws, matchsticks, tiny screwdrivers, a folded crisp $100 bill, the back of the hand.

Cubans and Latins go for "The Bambita"—melted cocaine mixed with liquid amphetamine, then injected. Substitute heroin and you've got a "Speedball." Users say "the rush," the high comes faster, much faster. And it's more intense.

Coke's expensive. Twenty-five to seventy-five dollars a spoon, depending on the purity of the cut.

Coke spoons are "in," for the moment anyway. It's a sign you're a member of a private club. "Cutsy" is one narc—narcotic agent's—description of the current fad of wearing a coke spoon on a chain around the neck. That can be expensive, too. Some spoons, just a couple of inches long and thin, are made of gold or platinum. A few have jewels in the handle.

Pimps, flashy and obvious, wear coke spoons. So do some rock performers. So do many coke dealers. It's showing off your wealth, because a coke habit costs plenty.

Coke spoons are now seen hanging around the necks of New York secretaries working in the pop music business. It lets them look hip during weekends at Manhattan's east side singles bars.

Excluding pimps and coke dealers, the users comprise an elite in terms of artistry and accomplishment. Many straight people are doing cocaine, too.


"An exquisite, unbelievable, fan-fucking-tastic high," say coke heads. Agents and cops—cynical, knowing—say Bullshit. Users of any drug, they claim, will tell you there's nothing better.

It's an aphrodisiac, say coke heads. What it does for sex is wild.

Perry B., black, thirty-four, is a choreographer and dancer in Manhattan. He has his own studio, and lives with Jane, twenty-four, white, also a dancer. He plays drums, stages nightclub acts for top show-business names:

"I'm not really a coke head but I like it. First of all, it's a sexual stimulant. Before and during. I've put it on my cock to deaden it and last longer, but I don't do it now. I tell you what—it's nice to have a chick eat it off your cock. It's a nice feeling.

"I do know a few dancers who are kind of coke heads. And they turn me on to it, maybe once a week. It has never gotten in the way of my performing, although you know I haven't done coke that much when I've performed. Some people use it to clear their heads. It helps to get rid of a cold, believe it or not. If you've got a badly stopped up nose, coke will do a number on you immediately. Yes, it definitely will.

"Chicks and coke? It makes them sexier. It just gives them an extra little zest for sex, man. Does the same for men, but it seems to be more so for women. Because women are feminine. They have more ... I don't know, I can't find the words for it.

"Like these two chicks that did a show with me in Vegas. They want to do a sex thing with me. They want to do a three scene. And I'm trying to get them into a four scene. 'Cause Jane is ready to go into it now, 'cause I've got her head ready for that, too. Well she's done it with one other chick, that's a long time ago.

"Coke and sex? Definitely. Oh, for sure. For both stamina and the stimulant part of it. If you don't hear from me, you'll know why. I'm under."

Who's selling? Who's dealing?

Cubans. Blacks. These are the kingpins. Latins—Puerto Ricans, Argentinians, Colombians have a piece of the pie.

A few WASPs. Not many, however. Organized crime or the Mafia isn't in cocaine. Not yet. A handful sometimes deal in it, but most are staying with such staples as gambling, loansharking, extortion and, of course, heroin.

(Law enforcement people say that if coke continues to be lucrative, the Mafia will make its move. And the body count will rise even higher.)

Other dealers are young amateurs from college campuses. Wide-eyed they come, but they learn fast—those who live.

In addition to the wealthy, chic and glamorous people, another type is a steady customer for coke dealers: federal agents and undercover cops. Such transactions are unpopular since they tend to lead to getting arrested and sent to prison, quite possibly for life.

New York and Miami are the top cocaine cities. Coke comes into both places in large amounts. From both cities, it's shipped to New Jersey, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington D.C. Sometimes to California, which also has some direct supply lines to cocaine in Mexico.

Unlike heroin, which is smuggled into the United States from Europe, all cocaine comes directly from South America. Countries growing the coca plant, from which is processed the white crystalline powder called cocaine, are Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Federal agents list the three main cocaine smuggling routes as South America to New York; South America to Miami; South America to Central America to California.

Jerry, 37, an agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD):

"Some of it's coming into the country on some very famous people. They demand VIP treatment when they travel. So they get ushered through without a good 'toss' [search]. A lot of drugs come in this way, for personal use as well as for sale. Customs officials have sort of stopped this kind of treatment, but not completely.

"A BNDD agent busted ________ [world famed rock group]. Got 'em in Brooklyn for pot, speed and cocaine. One of them wrote a song about the bust. Turned out to be a million-record seller. The group sent a telegram to the agent—'This song is dedicated to you, you son of a bitch.' He appreciated it. He was proud of it.

"Some blacks pass around coke at parties like it was a cheese dip. Prostitutes are supplied with coke by pimps. Everywhere you go people are taking 'blows' [sniffing coke]. In Latin bars in New York the owners say 'not out in front at the bar.' So when you walk into the bathroom your feet are kicking a lot of tin foil wrappers. A wrapper of tin foil holds one 'blow' or 'snort.' Price: $10 and up, depending on the purity."

Everyone dealing in cocaine is afraid. No dealer considers himself safe. The big ones all have bodyguards.

Coke and heroin dealers fear each other more than they fear the law. Ripoffs happen daily. South American jungles or ports and cities, Central American airfields, docks and Cuban bars in Miami, a black after-hours joint in Harlem, a parking lot in Detroit, a highway in California—any place and every place is a scene for a double-cross, a robbery. And no one involved can complain to the law.

Someone is always ready to rob the dealer of his drugs, his money, his life. Treachery and betrayal often precede the killings, the beatings, the robbery. As distinct from most other crime for profit, not only outsiders covet the cash and the cocaine.

An underling who wishes to move up or go into business for himself; an informant who seeks a percentage of the bust from the law (he'll get it, too); a woman scorned; a dealer looking to eliminate competition; a guy with a gun who needs money—any and all of them are a threat to the cocaine dealer's life and business.

The violence against the cocaine dealer is more than matched by his violence against his attackers. As far as forgive and forget goes, forget it.

To get ripped off, taken off and not come back hard is a sign of weakness. Weakness is death. A cocaine dealer who has been robbed of money or of a large shipment of drugs can be vicious and vengeful. Revenge is a good business practice. By creating a gory object lesson, he may scare off future attacks.

Then again, he may not.

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies report a continuing rise in drug related homicides. Some of these homicides never make newspapers or official statistics. Informants whisper of deaths, where bodies are disposed of in numerous and interesting ways.

The dead body may have disappeared, but the lesson is in plain sight, if future or potential ripoff specialists are observant.

It's a long-standing tradition in the American press not to report most deaths in black communities. Therefore a lot of cocaine-related homicides in these areas are not made public. Again, however, those who should know, do know.

There's blood on every spoonful of cocaine. The profits are extremely high and, in the opinion of many, worth killing for. Dealers, from spoon level to the multi-million dollar level, carry guns.

So do federal agents, now. A few years ago, they didn't. The feeling is, "they do it, so we have no choice." Worse, dealers are quick to pull the trigger. "Gunplay's the thing nowadays," said a BNDD agent. "Everyone's got one and willing to use it, too. It's not just for show. They're willing to use it."

Fear of ripoffs, and fear of stiff prison terms from both federal and state courts have made drug dealers paranoid and therefore among the most dangerous opponents law enforcers have to face.

The phrase "making a federal case out of it" is not to be taken lightly. Agencies like BNDD, and Customs are so thorough in preparing evidence against drug offenders, that the background information presented in court in almost every case stacks up six inches high.

Until a few years ago, the conviction rate on a federal level was ninety-eight percent. Changes in law and in courtroom presentation of cases have trimmed the average down somewhat, but not too much.

Jail terms of up to thirty years, or what amounts to a life sentence, are common from the feds.

The price of a spoonful of cocaine is enough to have someone killed. State penalties can be tough, though "plea bargaining" (a deal where defendants plead guilty to lesser charges in order to lighten the court calendar), is a break for some drug offenders. It's often used for just that purpose.

The huge profits piled up by some cocaine dealers are not growing moldy in some backyard. The money is often invested in heroin. A coke dealer, when asked, will obtain heroin for a favored customer. Some deal in coke to get money for their own heroin habit. Others, as mentioned, see cocaine as a means to raise funds and join the millionaires being made by the brisk heroin trade in major American cities.

Coke snorters—whether they like it or not, or know it or not—keep heroin sales up. And high heroin sales mean a high crime rate.

"As long as there's a demand for cocaine," said an agent, "somebody's going to be killed. Somewhere, somehow and too damn often. That's a fact."

Larry, 24, white, hasn't slept for three days:

"Man, I ain't tired," he says. His rock group ________ is on a fifteen city tour. The group is hot—ten million records sold in a year and a half, three number one singles, two albums on the best-selling charts for over forty weeks.

The group's booked into auditoriums large enough to guarantee $30,000 per date. Two shows a night. Larry isn't sleeping because he's writing songs for the next album, which they'll record before taking off for a European tour.

The studio's been reserved in New York, backup musicians contracted for. The recording sessions will begin 12 hours after the current tour ends.

"Cocaine helps a lot," says Larry. "Man, it's dynamite." Last night, Larry and two groupies got into a sex thing that lasted for three hours. Some of the guys watched, then got tired of watching and left. Cocaine helped a lot, said Larry. Even the chicks dug it, though one of them said it was her first time and it burned a little.

Larry says he's not tired, despite travelling, having to be up for two shows a night, plus fucking and writing stuff for the next album. No worries about the European tour, either.

His road manager makes the coke buys. Larry's no fool. He lets somebody else cop (buy). If the fuzz is watching, if the guy dealing is a narc, tough. Let the roadie take the fall. We'll get him a lawyer.

Larry's having trouble breathing. He doesn't know why. Maybe some drops will help, or a spray. Also, his heart's beating fast sometimes. Sounds like Turk the drummer playing when he's angry or horny. Tonight some blood trickled out of Larry's nose. No problem. Snort a little coke, and everything's cool.

"Where the fuck's the roadie. Man he was due back an hour ago. That dude wouldn't be dumb enough to rip off Larry. No way. Maybe he got busted? Where is he?"

From Earl Wilson's syndicated column of September 21, 1972: "A Government source says cocaine's the new 'in' drug of the wealthy movie stars, authors, tycoons—and pimps."

Getting high, getting laid, getting a lot of work done, being up and being on, being strong, being creative and being super aware, being hip and being "in"—this is why they say they sniff the white powder.

From "Fact Sheets," Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs: "Cocaine is a white or colorless crystalline powder ... It can induce euphoria, excitation, anxiety, a sense of increased muscular strength, talkativeness and a reduction in the feeling of fatigue. The pupils become dilated and the heart rate and blood pressure increase.

"In larger doses, cocaine can produce hallucinations and paranoid delusions. Stimulation is followed by depression. In cases of overdose, breathing and heart functions may be so depressed that death results.

"No physical dependence develops with cocaine, nor is there a characteristic abstinence syndrome or tolerance. The cocaine abuser does, however, feel a strong psychological dependence. When use is stopped, he may feel depressed, and hallucinations may persist."

Cocaine is "in," the high of the moment, and the latest in a series of recent drug fads.

The coca plant isn't new, however. It's been around awhile. And people have been using this powerful stimulant for thousands of years.

The Incas of South America chewed the leaves of the coca plant together with lime since before the birth of Christ. Today their descendants still do, and for the same reasons. The thin air of the Andes mountains can make breathing difficult. Then the Indians worked long, brutal hours at tough jobs.

They still do. They worked the mines—gold, silver, tin. They worked the farms, dug roads for as long as the sun lasted. And the coca leaves blotted out the pain, erased the long hours, gave them strength to be willing slaves for Inca rulers, and later for the Spanish conquistadores.

Today some of the rich owners of mines and huge plantations in South America pay their Indian workers in coca leaves. It's a good deal. The Indian gets a pain killer and a stimulant.

The owner gets a worker who'll burn himself out at his job.

The Spanish conquistadores, who stole everything the Incas owned and took it back with them, also brought coca leaves home to Spain. No one was interested in this strange foliage. And it wasn't until the middle of the nineteenth century that a man named Niemann, an Austrian chemist, managed to turn the leaf into a powder called cocaine.

Not long after this discovery cocaine was used as a local anaesthetic for eye, ear, nose and throat operations. Today it has only occasional medical use, if any. Cocaine derivatives, however, such as procaine and novacaine, are widely used.


Excerpted from Cocaine by Marc Olden. Copyright © 1973 Marc Olden. Excerpted by permission of Road Integrated Media.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

  • Cover
  • Dedication
  • Chapter I
  • Chapter II
  • Chapter III
  • Chapter IV
  • Chapter V
  • Chapter VI
  • Chapter VII
  • Chapter VIII
  • Chapter IX
  • Chapter X
  • Post Mortem
  • Copyright

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