I’m sitting in a room talking to a man. I can’t be more specific than that. We’re eating dinner – spaghetti bolognese. He’s a former drug dealer from South London. Between the ages of 18 and 20, he sold pills and weed across the region, working with a large-scale supplier and selling to a wide range of clientele, and having some dealers working under him. My first question was a classic, how had he got into it? He told me, “You’re taking me back to when I was 13, 14. Me and two other mates smoked every weekend, but we had no money. We got some guy who was rich, told him we were all putting in £50, [the rest of us] scraped together £10 and then [we] all smoked together. I sold £10’s worth for £30 to some kids in the year below and used it to buy more the next weekend. If we wanted to smoke, we needed that bit of money.”
He added, “I stopped smoking later because I met a girl, but then I broke up with her and my mate mentioned he might pick up a q [quarter ounce], I agreed to split it, so it all started up again, all for free smoke, till I got together £400 for 2 and a q [two and a quarter ounces] and eventually I was buying an 8th of a kilo for £750. I had an old mate who went to primary and secondary school with me, he got kicked out but when I met up with him again he was a large-scale supplier, least he was selling was 4 and a half, but he sold 2 and a q to me, and his mate was selling me pills, and I got lower prices.”
I asked him how the life had worked for him. “At my best, I was netting £500 a week, but I’d smoke it all, spend it all, I was working from 11AM to 8 or 9PM, I’d be anywhere from Merton to New Cross, all across South London, cycling up to 30 miles some days. I had people selling pills for me, people shotting [selling drugs] for me at Goldsmiths, I’d go every Friday to UAL [University of the Arts London] and make £150, bare people want to pick up, I’d just chill at parties and sell.”
Obviously drug dealing is a strange business, fraught with strange individuals, so he told me about some of his strangest encounter. “I had one guy who I was getting down to get coke from someone else, and he started bugging out and thought it was a set up and cycled off, I chased him because I thought he had my money, turns out he didn’t. I actually used to sell to people’s parents, one of my old mates, I’d come in, sit down in the front room, have a chat with them, they were lovely people, most I sold to them in one go was 63 pills, some to the younger sister for a festival, some to the parents. They were happy to help out one of their son’s mates.”
He told me the most stupid thing for a customer to do is “suggesting the price to me”
“For pills there’s economies of scale. 1 pill is £10, but 4 for £25. Stupidest thing is someone would come up and suggest the price, like ‘can I get 10 for £90?’ and I’d just say, ‘be my guest’”.
It’s in the news a lot that people die from drug use, especially pill users at parties, plus he was mainly dealing to mates and people he knew, so I asked him if he ever cut anyone off if he thought they were too bad.
“I separated myself morally. If someone died, it was their responsibility. But I was a partier, if I had money, I’d spend it. I was so unsensible [sic], everyone was better, everyone looked fine to me. Some nights I’d do 7 or 8 pills, which is enough to kill someone. One night I took 7 pills and tripped out cycling. I meant to go to Dulwich, I ended up in Putney and Tulls Hill. How did I get to Putney? I thought my friends were with me, I was talking to them, anyone watching would have seen me talking to no one. No clue.”
I ask him whether drugs should be legal? He replies, “It would help a lot of things, I mean look at the evidence, so many countries have legalised it, addiction is less demonised. Nowadays, kids are growing up ‘round drugs, something needs to be done about it, we can’t just dance around it, it needed to be taught and helped.”
He quit a while ago now, which prompted my final question, why did he leave the business? He answered simply, that is was “the fear of getting arrested, it got scarier and scarier. After I turned 19, I slowed everything and I wasn’t as keen to push my product”.