The Cocaine Kids: The Inside Story Of A Teenage Drug Ring

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Hachette Books, Jan 22, 1990 - Social Science - 160 pages
Since 1982, sociologist Terry Williams has spent days, weeks, and months “hanging out” with a teenage cocaine ring in cocaine bars, after-hours clubs, on street corners, in crack houses and in their homes. The picture he creates in The Cocaine Kids is the story behind the headlines. The lives of these young dealers in the fast lane of the underground economy emerge in depth and color on the pages of this book.

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The cocaine kids: the inside story of a teenage drug ring

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From 1982 to 1986, sociologist Williams followed the activities of a teenage cocaine ring in New York's Spanish Harlem. He tells their story in their own street language (and conveniently provides a ... Read full review

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Great read.


2 The Cocaine Trade
3 The Kids
4 The Scene
5 The Kids Move On

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Page 10 - Money and drugs are the obvious immediate rewards for kids in the cocaine trade. But there is another strong motivating force, and that is the desire to show family and friends that they can succeed at something.
Page 1 - The apartment is crowded with teenagers, all wearing halflaced sneakers and necklace ropes of gold. Doorbells ring every few minutes, white powder dusts the table tops; jaggededge matchbook covers and dollar bills seem to flow from hand to hand. The talk is frenetic, filled with masterful plans and false promises. Everybody has a girl. Everybody has cocaine. Everybody has a...
Page 20 - Coke is Just a way for me to make some money and do some things I would otherwise not have the chance of doing in the real world. Coke ain't real. All this stuff and the things we do ain't real
Page x - Their work has been essential to the growth of a major industry; they have helped establish an organizational structure that sustains a regular market and outwits law enforcement authorities. These teenagers have also found a way to make money in a society that offers them few constructive alternatives. In many ways, these kids and others like them simply want respect: they are willing to risk their lives to attain those prized adult rewards of power, prestige and wealth.
Page x - Every teen aspires to make good. In the cocaine hustle, that means to "get behind the scale" — to deal in significant quantities; it is like landing a top sales job in a major corporation, or being named a partner, after a long apprenticeship, in a brokerage firm with a seat on the Stock Exchange. The kids who get that far have some control over prices and selling techniques, direct the work of subordinates, and, above all else, make large amounts of money.
Page 8 - Those who recruit teenagers are following a tradition that dates back almost twenty years, and was the direct effect of the harsh "Rockefeller laws" mandating a prison term for anyone over eighteen in possession of an illegal drug. This led heroin dealers to use kids as runners, and cocaine importers have followed this pattern: young people not only avoid the law but are, for the most part, quite trustworthy; they are also relatively easy to frighten and control.
Page xi - There are many people without whom this book could not have been written. I would like to thank Albert on the door.

About the author (1990)

Sociologist Terry Williams, Ph.D., coauthor of Growing Up Poor, is the joint recipient of a MacArthur foundation grant to study the culture of housing projects. The completion of The Cocaine Kids was accomplished during Williams's appointment at the Conservation of Human Resources at Columbia University.

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