He clearly takes pride in his role sparking dance-floor romances across the city. With good-quality MDMA fast becoming one of the most sought-after drugs, Carlo has a prime spot in a very popular distribution pyramid.
During the evenings I spent accompanying Carlo on his rounds, I learned that his customer base included people of all walks of life. Within one four-hour period, I saw Carlo cater to NYU students, lawyers, artists, bankers, and a college professor—all ordering drugs to their apartments as casually as if it were Chinese food. Someone gets jealous, your phone gets tapped, someone snitches, or you get stupid and sell something in the wrong place.
Carlo has been dealing for almost 15 years.
He sells marijuana, cocaine, ketamine, and magic mushrooms, but his most-prized asset is his connection to a Canadian MDMA distributor. He sells a portion of his monthly stash to other dealers for a quick turnaround, but he likes to maintain a direct connection to his favorite clients—around regular customers. Carlo claims he never dilutes his MDMA. The best way to distinguish himself in a competitive, chaotic market—and maintain the luxury of selecting clients—is to be pure and consistent.
At one residence, a businessman in his 40s opened the door, still dressed for the office in a suit and silk tie, still, by phone, issuing stern instructions to one Idiots guide to making mdma his colleagues.
He held the phone to one ear while he winked and grinned at Carlo, then reached out to shake his hand.
Your friendly neighborhood drug dealer
The man led us into the foyer and waved his hand toward the kitchen to indicate that we should make ourselves comfortable. Based on the decorations and the pictures on the wall, he appeared to have a wife and at least two children.
Carlo already knew what this man wanted. He was a longtime customer who had texted his order ahead of time using code phrases. Carlo does most of his business via text message. Carlo pulled out a handful of small plastic bags. Each one contained five or 10 pills, prepackaged selections for various customers. It was a silent reminder that he was on a busy schedule. The man on the phone finished his call and greeted Carlo warmly.
Idiots guide to making mdma exchanged pleasantries, while Carlo laid out a bag of 20 MDMA pills and two one-gram bags of cocaine. They were, after all, committing a crime together. In a city like New York, drugs are a part of everyday life for people from all social classes. Uned professionals take part in this underground economy: bankers and ad executives, fashion deers and fitness trainers. In many circles, drugs are nearly as easy to find as liquor.
For dealers, this is an unusual time to be in the business.
There are now 20 states where marijuana is legal, decriminalized, or approved for medical use. Attorney General Eric Holder has made public statements about commuting drug sentences, and Governor Jerry Brown recently pardoned 63 California drug offenders.
Even the president of the United States has lent an air of legitimacy to marijuana. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol.
New York dealers have been watching all of this with a mixture of approval and concern. At the moment, their business is distorted by black-market effects: It favors extreme risk-takers—people who are willing to make gambles few Wall Street executives could stomach. There are paper trails to cover and huge stashes that need to be hastily offloaded, not to mention large deliveries to be carried through city streets.
These dynamics may change, depending on whether, and which, drugs become legal. Customers in Colorado and Washington State no longer need to pay a premium for black-market marijuana. There are taxes to file and legal standards to meet.
Different skills have come to the foreground—knowledge of specific strains and their medicinal applications suddenly matter far more than sheer audacity. Some are hoping to get out of the game before the legal market takes over completely.
Others are positioning themselves to build legitimate businesses. Clean-cut and modestly dressed, he blended easily into the crowd, but inside his messenger bag were about 60 to 70 small plastic containers full of marijuana. Over the course of a few weeks, Max invited me to him on several delivery runs.
I followed him to apartments, parties, libraries, and even offices.
In one five-hour shift he serviced 30 buildings in different parts of Manhattan. Max grew up downtown, in an artsy but rough neighborhood. He started smoking marijuana as a teenager, and began dealing it in college.
He pointed out the fine purple leaves woven into the larger green leaves; he talked about heavy Indica strains, energizing Sativa strains, and the perfect hybrids. Many of his patrons use weed to treat medical conditions, he told me. So I get specific strands that I know will help.
Less, is often more
This secret source has relationships with a variety of weed farms in California. According to Max, even many d farms in states where medicinal marijuana is legal sell most of their stock under the table to feed illegal demand. Normally, there are several go-betweens in the supply chain. His streamlined system gives him an important edge over most New York marijuana vendors: He's able to offer his customers an array of high-quality options at ificantly discounted prices. Max listened patiently and then offered one of his small plastic containers as a free sample.
He explained that ACME would never be able to beat his quality-to-cost ratio and left with a polite farewell, encouraging the friend to call him if he wanted more. During an evening in early winter, Max and I arrived at a lavish 40th-floor apartment in downtown Manhattan. The owner had called in a large order for a party, and when we came in, there were at least 80 stylishly dressed people lounging on the furniture and chatting loudly over the music.
As Max headed toward a back room with his customer, he pointed out a man in the corner and told me to talk to him. The man in question had neatly trimmed hair and stylish dark clothing.
He was flanked on either side Idiots guide to making mdma two large, muscular men. As I walked towards him, he watched me sharply, as his two attendants pivoted to block my approach. Once outside, he introduced himself as Viktor. Eventually, he told me two things about himself. The first was that he was one of the largest distributors of marijuana on the East Coast. The second was that he worked for the government. Before I could learn more, Viktor promised me a full interview soon, with non-negotiable limitations on what I could ask. He led me back inside, where I got my phone back from his friend and watched the trio leave the party.
I met Viktor again in mid-January, ing him in the back of a car parked in Tribeca.
As his driver navigated towards the highway, Viktor put in a pair of ear buds and told me it would be a long drive. We pulled up to a large country home attached to a conservatory. The property was situated on an acre or two of open field that eventually gave way to the thick tree line. I followed Viktor and his driver into the back entrance and down through a tunnel.
In a large basement room was a grow operation with several large marijuana plants. The smell was overwhelming. The room had a lush tropical feeling, with misted water, rich fertilizer, and hot lamps constantly feeding the plants. It was a hybrid of pulsing technology and verdant greenery. As we climbed the stairs into the house, I asked Viktor whether he grows all the marijuana for his distribution network.
Viktor told me he gets the overwhemling majority Idiots guide to making mdma California, but he likes to grow a little himself and experiment with strains. In the living room, two men were packing large cardboard boxes full of vacuum-sealed marijuana bags.
I tried to imagine the math involved in this level of production. How many cities did Viktor serve? How many dealers on the East Coast relied on his supply?
But he took me up another flight of stairs to an office where money was being counted. On another, a stern-faced man sorted more money.