When Crack was King

Murder Capital

“The city ain’t been the same since then. Especially, with that bitchass Rayful telling. It almost seems as if he made it a fad. I definitely blame him for that.” The DC Hustler

Washington DC will forever be known as the Murder Capital of the United States because of the drug violence during the crack era. The drug trade bred killers and Dodge City in the late 80′s was a virtual war zone with bodies dropping left and right on a daily basis. The shootouts, drivebys and execution-style killings were reminiscent of the brutal tactics used by Chicago gangsters in the 1920′s. Thirteen people were even killed by gunfire in a 24 hour period on February 14, 1989, a clear reminder of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago 70 years before when seven henchmen of gangster Bugs Moran were shot to death by Al Capone’s thugs. And like the Capone-era thugs many of the crack era gangsta’s had huge egos and boasted of their exploits after seeing them depicted on TV shows like the Districts “City under Siege.”

Crack hit DC in 1986 and its effects were immediate. When crack became king the streets of Chocolate City turned much deadlier. The police lost control of the neighborhoods and Washington became a mecca for crack cocaine enabling dealers to become more feared than cops. Rival dealers spilt blood, dying everyday for drug turf and spraying DC’s poor black neighborhoods with automatic gunfire killing one another and painted the city with death. As crack tore through DC and people got hooked crack babies, homelessness, carjacking, home robberies, kidnappings, lost homes, jobs and families became commonplace. Most of the drug dealers, drug users and victims of the drug related murders were young black men and the young black man who came to personify the city’s drug wars was Rayful Edmond.

Balling

“Rayful was balling but he wasn’t like they made him out to be. A lot of that was for the media and public. He was just the wrong nigga in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Mr. T, DC Blacks gang leader

Rayful Edmond was a baller. As in world class baller. His flashy life style made him famous on District streets and his crack empire, which spanned 4 years generated $2 million a week at its peak. The flourishing business afforded its young executives a style of life well beyond their working-class origins. And Rayful was president and CEO. His life consisted of flashy cars like Mercedes- Benz, BMW’s, Porsches and a Jaguar convertible with gold-inlaid hubcaps and bling like a $45,000 Rolex watch on his wrist. $25,000 pendants, a 3 carat diamond stud in his ear and a $15,000 diamond covered cross around his neck. Does your chain hang low? Rayful’s did. He took all expenses paid trips with his crew to the Super Bowl in San Diego, Mike Tyson fights in Atlantic City and Vegas title fights. $25,000 shopping sprees at Trump Plaza, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and Gucci or Hugo Boss stores in chauffeured limousines were the norm too. Dom Perignon Champagne flowed at trendy nightclubs and the flamboyant dresser made cash, purchases totaling $457,000 over 2 years from Linea Pitti, a pricey Italian men’s boutique in Georgetown. And this was just on suits, clothes and $600 shoes.

The king of cocaine was a folk hero to the city’s youth and passed out $100 bills like candy to kids in his M Street neighborhood. They gawked at Edmond, his fabulous clothes, his glittery girls, his stylish cars and the famous basketball players like Alonzo Mourning who were his friends. Rayful was a charmer who was seen as a modern day Robin Hood. When his city-league basketball team played in area tournaments the gym was filled with admiring young woman and adoring kids. The 6-foot, 190 lb sweet shooting guard was an affable, courteous and intelligent young man who attributed his affluent life style to his winnings from gambling. He was a high roller who loved to gamble at craps tables and the numbers. Edmond liked the streets, he liked running around, people talking about him and women chasing him. He liked spending nights at high-stakes crap games and being the center of attention and adoration of the whole city. But he also had a darker side, rooted in the vicious crack cocaine trade that caused a drug crisis in the city like never before.

Open-air drug bazaars and the grotesque killings that plagued the city’s spiraling drug trade, couriers going to LA by plane to buy kilos of coke carrying suitcases stuffed with, so much cash they could barely be lifted and seizures by law enforcement totaling nearly $4 million in cash were the lore of Rayful’s reign. His exploits were legendary in the city where stories about his crew’s drug dealing and penchant for violence that led to Rayful being linked to as many as 30 killings were rampant. As a big wheel of the drug trade he became a role model and employer of the area youths who with the promise of fast money became street dealers, lookouts or runners and made thousands a week. Edmond even had t-shirts made for his crew with his ‘Top of the Line’ slogan. Edmond spared no expenses and picked up legal fees if necessary or funeral expenses for soldiers gunned down in the line of duty. Network members were almost always represented by paid lawyers, an unusual sight in DC Superior Court for youths with no visible signs of employment and the deceased’s families were taken care of and provided for.

“Rayful was very generous,” a prosecutor said. “He provided his people with the avenue to get all their acquisitions. It was the lure of money that made them turn a blind eye to the immorality of the drugs and death around them and embrace the business wholeheartedly.” And Edmond made mind-boggling sums of money. He had so much money coming in that he once recalled having $15 million in denominations ranging from lO0′s to 5′s at one time in his house. Despite his millions he had no bank accounts, checkbooks, ledgers, money orders or cars, houses or apartments in his name. “That’s the way the police, they would catch you.” He said.

“He’s the Babe Ruth of crack dealing,” US Attorney Eric Holder said at the time and when a detective tried to serve him with a grand jury subpoena in connection with a shooting Edmond arranged to meet the detective at a certain time on a street corner. “Exactly at that time, Rayful pulled up in a white stretch limo with a driver,” the detective reported. And city educators knew about Rayful too. “The youth of this city know more about Rayful Edmond than great civil rights leaders,” a District high school teacher complained and she was right. The man who was so fresh he got 3 haircuts a week and who 20/20 called the $300 million dollar man has gone down in infamy. His story, one of brutality, power, money, murder and betrayal deserves its place in the annals of black American gangsters. And here it is, straight from the penitentiary, The Rayful Edmond story, uncut and uncensored.

“I was real jazzy. I’m like let’s try to have a lot of class.” Rayful Edmond

“They said he had fags up in the limo.” Da Kid from SE

“I made between 35 to 40 million easy.” Rayful Edmond

“They said slim had some rather homosexual tendencies.” The DC Hustler

“Just having a lot of street knowledge and being honest and putting a lot of work into it.” Rayful Edmond on building his crack empire

Biggest DC Drug Lord Ever

“Rayful Edmond is no hero. He is simply a thug with a wasted past and a hopeless guture.” The City’s Top Prosecutor

A 43 count indictment filed on June 20, 1989 charged Edmond along with 29 others with a variety of narcotics related activities, weapons offenses, murder and other crimes of violence in regards to the operation of a large scale cocaine distribution conspiracy. At trial the government presented evidence that Edmond led a group of family members and friends who conspired to distribute large amounts of cocaine in the NE Washington neighborhood where many of them lived and where Edmond grew up. Those involved in the conspiracy were Edmond; his friends, Melvin Butler and Tony Lewis; Edmonds half-brother, Emmanual “Mangie” Sutton; his half-sister, Bernice “Niecey” McGraw and her husband David McGraw; Edmonds cousin, Johnny Monford; Edmonds aunt, Armaretta Perry; and Edmonds sister’s boyfriend Jerry Millington; along with James “Tonio” Jones, Keith “Cheese” Cooper, Columbus “Little Nut” Daniels; Edmonds mother, Bootsie Perry and other relatives and associates, court records indicate.

“It was run just like a major corporation.” A detective said, “You had the chairman of the board and it went down from there.” Many of the family members supervised the retail side of the street operations counting the money. packaging and distributing the cocaine destined for the open-air market at Orleans Place NE. Rayful’s grandmothers house at 407 M St NE served as the networks headquarters and law enforcement officials said his “organization was as slick and well run as McDonalds. Crack was available any time of day or night and dealers had customers form lines that stretched one hundred buyers long.” Rayful was allegedly responsible for 60 percent of the District’s cocaine market in the late 80′s and he ran his organization with careful precision.

According to the government evidence, the conspiracy involved a multi-layered operation. Its focus was on a two block area of Morton Place and Orleans Place NE, Known as the Strip, which Edmond ran and maintained from 1986 through 1989. In operating the drug business, sellers, paid by the day or week, worked in 8-hour shifts. Demand for drugs along the Strip was so intense during that period that sellers sometimes sold out their supplies within minutes. Individuals dubbed lieutenants of the organization including Cooper and Sutton, supplied dealers, including juveniles with bundles of cocaine, collected money from them and shouted warnings when police entered the area. These lieutenants, along with Millington, Jones and Monford, supervised the Strip, controlling the supply of cocaine and overseeing sellers. To supply the Strip several family members of Edmond, including David and Bernice McGraw and Armaretta Perry, packaged cocaine at various sites. Once packaged the cocaine was stored at various houses and apartments of the conspirators, court records indicate.

The government also presented evidence that the Edmond organization-acted as a drug wholesaler. According to the government the Edmond network received the cocaine that fueled its activities from Colombia through a series of transactions with Melvin Butler in California. The government presented evidence that Edmond associates Royal Brooks, Alta Rae Zanville, Tony Lewis and Edmond himself made trips to LA in the late 80′s to arrange for and pay for shipments of cocaine to Washington. Tony Lewis and Edmond pooled their money to finance million dollar multi-kilogram cocaine purchases from LA groups including the Crips who served as brokers from the Cali Cartel. The two youthful drug lords also formed a loose syndicate in DC with other major dealers in an effort to quell the violence bloodying the drug markets, court records indicate. But the violence associated with Edmonds crew couldn’t be averted and it would eventually come to a head. But how did Rayful get his start?

“If Rayful had all tha money how come his pops got busted with a punkass couple of kilos in Virginia after he got popped.” Mr. T

“I am not the person the US government is trying to make me out to be.” Rayful Edmond

The Jump Off

“A lot of kids from my community, they look up to me and think I was right for selling drugs. I want them to know I was wrong.” Rayful Edmond

“Rayful comes from a long line of hustlers,” Mr. T says. And police concur reporting that the Edmond family was linked to old-time drugs and numbers rings, which operated in the 1950′s and 1960′s. “He learned the business from his relatives at an early age, counting money and holding drugs.” Mr. T continues and prosecutors alleged that Edmonds father gave his son his start in the drug business in 1986 with a kilogram of cocaine, which Edmond flipped, setting up the foundations of his operations at Orleans and Morton Place.

Orleans Place and Morton Place were short, narrow, parallel one-way streets connected by a series of alleys. Florida Ave, a major east-west thoroughfare, was a short block to the north for easy access and fast getaways. When the strip was running at full capacity, dozens of coke dealers sold little bags to customers who came on foot or slowly cruised through in cars with Virginia or Maryland plates. If a police car ventured into this maze lookouts would yell, “Olleray, Olleray, Olleray,” pig Latin for roller. The narrow alleys were barricaded, so if the cops gave chase on foot, it was an obstacle course of old tires broken-down washing machines, trashcans and trip wires. Juveniles would lob foam footballs that had been hollowed out and stuffed with coke up and down the block as a kilo a day was moved in $50 bags.

“I don’t know if he was running shit back then but everyone that was associated with slim was getting some bank. Some more than others but no one was hurting.” Christopher Johnson, A DC soldier who’s forever tied to Rayful says. And Edmonds operation grew so fast that by 1987 he was making $1 million a week. “If you introduce Pepsi-cola into a new area, you’re going to create a demand for something new,” said Eddie McLaughlin, Narcotics supervisor for the Washington office of the FBI. “Edmond knew the potential for the market here. He was an early entrepreneur and he helped in its proliferation.”

Edmond became a hometown hero. He made sure neighbors had turkeys on Thanksgiving. He bought meals for the homeless, cars for his top staff, clothes for his friends and sponsored area basketball teams. With his flair and street persona he drew workers and admirers by always traveling in an entourage and in cars like Porsches or Jaguars, he was a walking employment advertisement. “There goes Rayful and them. They getting it.” They said in the city and the street smart, cunning young man from a large tight knit family was getting it. “Slim was having shit his way,” says Da Kid from SE. “I remember slim pulled up in my hood and gave all us lil’ niggas $100 a piece and told us to take out 1i1′ asses to school. I was like 7 years old then and to me he was a star because he was getting out a limo.”

“When people saw Ray they saw flash and personality.” Christopher Johnson says. “I don’t think he was feared himself or respected as an individual but the dudes that were around him were respected and feared by many. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Everyone played their position.” Edmond avoided arrest because he dealt only with a small group of associates and he rarely had direct contact with drugs or money. But his business really took off when he got hooked up with some major suppliers in California. The cocaine road to Edmonds distribution area in NE Washington began in Cali, Colombia. It was in LA that he laid the groundwork for large shipments of Colombian cocaine to the streets of Washington. And it was in Las Vegas where he made the connection.

“People get killed, people lose their jobs, people get strung out. A lot of my friends from my neighborhood lost their lives because I brought drugs into the community. Some babies probably was born from crack because of me. I feel bad about it now but back then I was just thinking of power.” Rayful Edmond

“All of us are loving and caring people who have kids. We’re ordinary people, just like everyone else in Washington.” Rayful Edmond

“Rayful Edmond and his family were a scourge to the streets of DC.” DC resident

The Come Up

“Any drug dealer then and now would enjoy doing business with Edmond, It would be a claim to fame. I could see how each and every one of them would like having that on their resumes.” DEA agent John Cornille

Among the thousands of high rollers who converged on Las Vegas in April 1987 for the Sugar Ray Leonard/Marvelous Marvin Hagler title fight was an unusual delegation from Washington DC led by a flashy 22 year old Rayful Edmond. The flamboyant Edmond and his crew caught the eye of LA Crip gang member Melvin Butler who attended such events for the precise purpose of finding men like Rayful, out of state big city drug lords. Butler was a cocaine broker who hooked up with kingpins like Rayful and connected them to Los Angeles wholesalers. The complex system that evolved and started to supply Edmonds organization with drugs was built on an informal and mutually profitable set of relationships between him and three west coast figures, the aforementioned Butler, his fellow Crip Brian “Waterhead Bo” Bennet and Mario Villabona. a Cali Cartel cocaine wholesaler who used his Crip connections to move thousands of kilo’s of coke.

During the 18 months following the Leonard/Hagler fight Edmond imported more cocaine into Washington than any drug dealers in the city’s history, federal law enforcement officials said. The drug pipeline that fed Edmond was a graphic illustration of the reach of the global cocaine networks controlled by Colombian drug cartels, which supplied 80 percent of coke imported to US markets in the 80′s. Law enforcement officials note that the increase in cocaine abuse in the city closely tracked the period Edmond was tapping into that pipeline that during 87 to 89 brought a seemingly unlimited supply of cocaine into Washington. “Slim made a grip.” says the DC Hustler. “It wasn’t a problem or a factor for slim to be known for money gettin. I can jive go for that.”

The methods used to supply Edmonds organization illustrate the meticulous and increasingly sophisticated way drug traffickers used the nations highways and airports to transport massive quantities of cocaine. During the 2 years the LA to Washington pipeline was in operation a highly organized transcontinental supply system operated with virtual impunity, thwarting the best efforts of federal and local law enforcement officials. Some shipments as large as 200 kilograms of cocaine were driven across country in rented trucks or recreational vehicles. Smaller shipments of about 20 kilograms were brought to the District in the luggage of couriers. An elaborate protocol extended to all business dealings. When Edmond met Bennet, they talked and they partied but money and drugs did not change hands between them. Associates attended to those chores. Edmond took care to separate himself from them.

“You know that with money comes power and strength.” The DC Hustler says. “Ray had a crew of almost 200 working for him. He was powerful and Slim had folks that he fucked with that was very real men, so respect came with the territory. Dudes have respect for those who earn respect.” And with the Colombian coke connect Rayful got that respect and he got that money. “He was from NE but he was supplying a great portion of the whole city.” Da Kid from SE says. And it’s said that Rayful even acted as a cocaine liaison for other drug kingpins in New York like Alpo and AZ. But it didn’t last. In May 1988 Edmond’s elaborate, cash-rich corporate style drug operation started to cave in when four men were arrested in California for offering an undercover $1 million for a cache of coke. Eventually the men talked and the man they talked about was Rayful Edmond. Three other key members of Rayful’s organization were arrested and agreed to participate in the case against him.

“I didn’t know how bad my situation was or how it was going to turn out.” Rayful Edmond

“Ray just got too big, too fast. You just knew the feds were gonna come get him.” Mr. T

“When Rayful got busted it was big news. I mean big news. It seemed he was the biggest drug dealer the world had ever seen.” Da Kid from SE

“All I know was at that time Rayful was the man. Before all the other shit.” The DC Hustler

The Trial

“Everybody had incentives to lie. Royal said a lot of thing about me. Me and him was like brothers. I couldn’t believe him coming to court saying things like that about me.” Rayful Edmond

The US District Court Building occupied an entire block on the north side of Constitution Avenue where it intersected with Pennsylvania Avenue at Third Street. Constructed of buff-colored limestone, it wasn’t an unappealing structure, and the small park to the one side with the expansive courtyard in front gave it an open, unimposing feeling. The National Gallery’s East Wing was directly across the street and the Capitol was just 4 blocks up the hill. It was a court for trying corrupt senators, judges, spies and federal officials. It was also a venue to try local drug dealers.

The Edmond case provided one of the first detailed glimpses of how the cartels fed inner city drug markets. The trials were a culmination of 3 parallel investigations into Edmond and his District associates and their suppliers in LA conducted over 2 years by more then 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officials. The investigation, which began independently stretched over 3 continents, revealing an international drama of smuggling, money laundering and secret wiretaps that traced a drug pipeline that began in the valleys of the Andes and ended on the narrow, tree-lined blocks of NE Washington known as the Strip where Ziploc bags of cocaine sold for $50. Witnesses included drug and money couriers, buyers, street lieutenants, sellers, a member of the Crips, a security guard and a lifelong friend and associate of Edmond, court records indicate.

“I wasn’t too surprised when his crew went down, because they were doing a lot of back and forth beefing prior to his arrest.” Christopher Johnson says referring to the June 23, 1988 murder of Brandon Terrell. Columbus “Little Nut” Daniels allegedly shot the rival dealer seven times on Edmond’s signal killing him. Edmond rewarded Little Nut with a $50K Mercedes-Benz for the Terrell shooting, court records say, and got a 16 year old to take the blame for the killing of Terrell outside the popular Chapter II nightclub. But the police didn’t buy it. “Nice try,” a detective said to Edmond, “but we still want Little Nut.” The execution triggered the turf battles, which gave DC the reputation as the world’s drug and murder capital. Little Nut was eventually gunned down at a barbershop and paralyzed from the neck down but Rayful escaped unscathed.

“It did shock me when the people told on him though. His mom killed him by bragging to someone that was wearing a wire. I couldn’t believe she was talking like that.” Christopher says referring to how Edmond’s mom described his rise in the drug business in a body wire recording played at the trial. “When he started out it was just like hand to hand on the street corner and then he just got too big. He just up and went out on his own.” Bootsie Perry said while secretly being recorded. “That’s not something I said, ladies and gentlemen, but his mother.” The prosecutor told the jury.

“They were actually executing slim without the death penalty,” the DC Hustler says. “He had Mayor Barry at his trial along with others. That’s when he had respect, when he was in the ring with Rome clutching.” And the trial was not without controversy. The cocaine conspiracy trial was the city’s first criminal trial with an anonymous jury and the public was excluded from the proceedings, leaving the media to act as its surrogate. A daily series of outbursts and unexpected events overshadowed the courtroom testimony. The complex, multi-defendant drug trial had allegations of witness harassment, death threats, prosecutorial misconduct and judicial bias. 160 witnesses and 800 pieces of evidence including tapes filled with coded discussions about drugs in sometimes undecipherable pig Latin were presented in the 56 day trial presided over by US District Court Judge Charles R Richy.

“There was the general feeling that because of the bulletproof glass, the anonymous jury system, the number of Marshals ringing the courtroom, the way in which the jury was selected and because of the general hype about the case and the amount of pretrial publicity that all created a climate he felt was going to make it difficult to get a fair trial,” Edmonds lawyer said. The most damaging evidence was the testimony of Alta Rae Zanville and Royal Brooks, a childhood friend of Rayful’s who testified in excruciating detail how he stored hundreds of pounds of cocaine and millions of dollars in cash for Edmond. He described ferrying millions of dollars to LA at Edmond’s instruction to pay for cocaine. Edmond bragged to him that he could package cocaine faster than anyone because he was “raised bagging stuff.” A police officer testified that he was 30 transactions a minute at the Strip and a former worker testified that she sold 500 $50 packs, $25,000 worth in two hours. The testimony painted a picture of an efficiently run business with regular paydays and work shifts and Sundays off.

“This is the most significant law enforcement operation here directed at a cocaine distribution network,” US Attorney Jay B Stephens said flanked by local and federal officers at a news conference in front of the courthouse. “This is the principal case, based on our intelligence, Edmonds group distributed 60 percent of the cocaine coming in. It was a closely knit family organization with enforcers, runners, lieutenants and money counters “The three month trial dominated headlines and newscasts and was the first to be carried out under extraordinary security measures including an anonymous jury, more than 15 US Marshals in the courtroom and the bulletproof shield separating the attorneys, judges and jury from the courtroom audience. None of the defendants took the stand to testify in their own defense and six witnesses linked Edmond directly to drug transactions. The jury of 2 men and 10 women announced their unanimous verdicts on all defendants shortly after 10 AM on December 6th, 1989 after 5 days of deliberations in what was the longest and costliest drug trial ever held in the district.

“We’ve taken down a major distributor in the city.” DC Police Chief Maurice T. Turner said at the conclusion of the trial. “That sends a message to the community that we are serious, that we are going to close this drug distribution market down.” US Attorney Stephens also hailed the convictions as a victory “for all the people of the District of Columbia” and a warning to other drug dealers that law enforcement officials “stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of this community to turn the tides of drugs that have so devastated this city.” The convictions capped a massive 2 year investigation by the DEA, FBI and DC Police, which pursued Edmond as his operation grew from its base in a quiet residential neighborhood in NE Washington. Edmond who smiled through much of the trial appeared shocked when the verdicts were read. “For those young people who have seen Mr. Edmond in his smiling ways over the years, they should have seen his crying ways in jail this morning.” DEA agent John Wilder mocked. But Edmond would get the last laugh.

“I think that me, and my family, and my friends all should have been found not guilty.” Rayful Edmond

“I felt railroaded. I honestly think I was. Everybody in DC knew about the case. I said to myself the jurors were not going to have any choice but to find you guilty.” Rayful Edmond

“We were on trial for 3 months and they came back in 4 days.” Rayful Edmond

Still Balling

“People are sitting in prison, making drug deals.” Rayful Edmond

Rayful kept on dealing even after he went to federal prison for life. He masterminded the shipment of more than two tons of cocaine from the coca fields of Colombia to the District of Columbia from his cellblock. Edmond took advantage of every privilege while at the Lewisburg PA federal prison using the phones to arrange introductions of Washington dealers to Colombian suppliers. He often made 60 calls in less than five hours occasionally using 2 lines simultaneously to conduct his business. His contacts on the outside set up conference calls for him to Colombia and he used the prison mails and visiting hours to work out details of the meetings of the various parties He even mediated disputes, persuading the Colombians not to kill “Washington drug dealers when they fell behind in their payments for cocaine. One afternoon he made 54 calls to 5 states and 2 foreign countries. He spoke pig Latin to his boys in DC using the contacts he made while serving 2 life sentences to expand his drug trafficking operation in prison.

“He was exceeding that, which he did when he was running what had been the largest drug operation in DC history.” US Attorney Holder said. And Rayful said in interviews after the fact that it was “much easier (to sell drugs in prison) because you’re right there where the people that have direct access to the narcotics that you need- Colombians, Cubans Mexicans.” Sharing the same cellblock with Edmond at USP Lewisburg were Dixon Dario and Osvaldo “Chicky” Trujillo-Blanco. The brothers connection went to the heart of the violent Medellin cartel and they became Rayful’s new Colombian connection Lewisburg was bustling with convicted dealers who were doing major business setting up deals for friends on the inside and outside. When Rayful met the brothers they were not a year away from being paroled,

Osvaldo “Chicky” Trujillo-Blanco was cocaine royalty son of Griselda Trujillo Blanco, better known as the Godmother of the Colombian drug underworld, a founding member of the notorious Medellin drug cartel. By October 1991 an informant told the FBI Rayful was back in business arranging deals from prison. From April to October of 1992 the FBI listened in on 4 prison phones as Edmond brokered deals between the Colombian brothers and various DC drug traffickers in arcan codes to discuss and arrange large cocaine deals. As matchmaker Rayful collected commissions based on the amount sold.

“His name was still ringing in the city.” Christopher Johnson says “After all he was one of the biggest dudes to come out of the city. His crews name was still ringing too. Still does for that matter on a respect tip “As Rayful’s name stayed in the streets he got visitors to smuggle small amounts of cocaine, heroin and marijuana to him. He said he quickly learned it was easier to deal drugs from behind bars to people on the outside. He had access to phones on the B cell block practically whenever he wanted. He estimated he hooked up 20 or so Washington dealers with Chicky who sold them close to a thousand kilos of cocaine. “I just enjoyed it,” Rayful said of his continued drug activity. “It was something for me to do. I was in jail and I had nothing to do. I wanted to make more money. At the time my mindset was I had to still have people look up to me and prove that I was still capable of making things happen. It’s just about everybody inside the jail in some way, shape, form or fashion is dealing drugs, either directly or indirectly.” Not to justify it but Rayful was definitely balling from inside the cellblock. The authorities were not amused.

“It is intolerable that criminals who were incarcerated for the precise purpose of protecting our citizens have instead been able to use the prison facilities as their home offices for creating and commanding narcotics enterprises that have left nothing in their wake but death and destruction on the streets of our city,” US Attorney Holder said upon revelations of Edmonds activity. “Today’s events demonstrate the shocking fact that inmates in federal correctional institutions have been able to participate in international cocaine conspiracies from behind prison walls.” Lane Crocker, the agent in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office sharply criticized the federal Bureau of Prisons, blaming its laz management for allowing international drug deals to be orchestrated from prison. But this story still had an unexpected turn.

“Dude stayed up in the law library. He always said he was working on a way to get out but I had no idea he would do want he did.” USP Lewisburg Convict

“I could stay in here 100 years and it’s not going to change anything.” Rayful Edmond

I’ll be out in two years. I’ll be back on the street.” Rayful Edmond

Flipping the Script

“I knew. But his persona is so strong. Rayful is the ultimate stand up guy. That persona just sucks people in. Rayful Edmond would be the last person anyone would think was a snitch.” James W. Rudasil, Attorney at Law

“The feds sent a nigga named Donald “Worthy” Wortham to set Ray up in Lewisburg.” Christopher Johnson relates. “After the Colombian dude Chicky got killed it slowed things down in the city for a second. Through Ray the city was getting blessed by Chicky. The feds knew this but couldn’t get to Ray until Donald caught a case and couldn’t do the time. They knew that Donald knew Ray so they sent him to Lewisburg and Worthy hit him with the good story. ‘I got a man that has the money but his connect is not steady. ‘Ray bit and plugged Worthy’s man (the feds) in with the connect. The feds went to Ray and let him know that he was through. Told him he was going back to Marion and that his appeal on the first charge didn’t mean shit. That’s right that whole crew was coming back on appeal except for a few people. So all that shit about he did it for mom is propaganda by the government.”

When authorities ensnared him in the above mentioned sting in July 1994 Edmond said he saw that as a chance to break his addiction: selling cocaine. He never used the stuff, let alone smoked a cigarette or drank a beer and with his man Chicky having been gunned down in a Medellin nightclub Rayful must have been tired of it all, the hassle, the hustle, the deals-living up to the name Rayful Edmonds and being the wheeler dealer everyone expected him to be. “I had been giving it a thought for a while that I wanted to stop selling drugs and I figured this was the best way for me to stop,” Rayful said and he started working for the feds shortly thereafter.

“We gained tremendous intelligence when Rayful Edmond said to the FBI he wished to cooperate with the government,” Asst. US Attorney John Dominguez said. The immediate results of Edmonds work were the arrests in DC of 11 people, five of whom authorities described as the biggest drug dealers in town at the time. Edmond set them up and arranged for them to meet an undercover agent, DC Police Detective Jesus C. Gonzalez who posed as a representative of the Trujillo-Blanco family from Colombia. The men and their associates met with Gonzalez in Newark to work out the details of their purchase of 60 kilos of coke for $1 million with $375,000 to be paid upon delivery. Christopher Johnson who was then 28, was one of the men set up by Rayful. Two other men, Michael Jackson and James Corbin were set up and indicted in Pennsylvania. This is how the setup went down.

“It was easy.” Christopher says. “Ray called and said that Chicky’s brother was in town. Shit, niggas was happy as a motherfucker. All the time a nigga think he’s meeting Chicky’s brother he’s talking numbers with the feds. Them bastards tricked everyone. Kept a nigga on hold for months. They would call once in a while and tell you to be ready. All that good shit.” Christopher ended up getting 150 months for being caught in the sting operation and the knowledge that he was set up by the biggest drug dealer from the city ever, Rayful Edmond. “I consider myself a loser,” Christopher says, “Not only did I see the police that day. I just didn’t want to believe it. And of course being greedy and loyal to the niggas I was with. But I’m a loser cause I don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. I’ve learned that if you heard a nigga was hot and he went and put work in and smashed the dude for saying it, it doesn’t mean he ain’t no rat. It just means he’s a tough rat.”

US Attorney Eric H Holder announced that Edmond delivered five up and coming drug traffickers to the FBI and the DC police, pleaded guilty to even more drug counts and agreed to forfeit $200,000 of the profits he racked up during his prison cell dealing. As a reward for his cooperation his mother’s 14 year sentence was reduced. The feds put him in a little know witness protection program for convicts. He lives under an alias in a different prison where it’s hoped those he betrayed won’t find him. His testimony for the prosecution against Rodney Moore and Kevin Gray of Murder Inc in 2002 was the third time he set up or testified against his former friends or business associates. It was reported he did this to regain visiting privileges with his mother. The old Rayful who swaggered through DC streets in fancy threads and expensive jewelry who always seemed to have beautiful women on his arm, was no more. He was a witness for the prosecution. A rat. A snitch.

“I was in Lewisburg with Rayful and when I got out the nigga was calling me trying to get me to do some things with him on the coke tip. But I had just got out and wasn’t trying to hear that shit. I’m glad I didn’t cause that was when he started setting niggas up.” USP Lewisburg Convict

“Edmond was such a notorious figure it was unpalatable for the government to consider reducing his sentence.” AUSA John Dominguez

“They said that Colombian Chicky got killed for fucking with Rayful. His people knew Ray was a snitch.” Da Kid from SE

“He was setting dudes up and getting good men a lot of time.” The DC Hustler

The Legacy

“When it got out that Rayful was snitching all the love turned to hate, dudes started saying slim was a faggot and all types of shit.” USP Lewisburg Convict

The Edmond lore of fancy cars, gorgeous women and basketball stars still circulate in neighborhoods near his old base of operations in the 400 block of M Street NE. His rise and fall have become milestones in the city’s drug trade, a market previously dominated by small-time dealers in constant search of supplies. The man who was voted most popular at Dunbar High in his senior year of 1982 and who was most definitely the undisputed king of District drug dealers during the 1980′s still illicit controversy whenever his name is mentioned.

“Rayful’s legacy to me is bitch,” says the DC Hustler “He put a black eye on the face of DC. His antics single handedly gave out of state bammas the green light and weak bitches the green light to get down first. What type of shit is that? They even got fake gangsters on TV making bitchass movies portraying bitchass dudes talking about telling snitching, ratting on dudes in DC. Why not huh? One of our own set it off.” Edmond means different things to different people even to this very day. But he was definitely an urban (DC) legend whose true-life story is far from imaginary hood myth. Rayful was king of the city, the drug tycoon/mob boss that a lot of rappers nowadays portray themselves to be. Edmonds sophisticated enterprise that moved thousands of kilos of coke received significant regional and national publicity. Making Edmond one of the most infamous drug dealers of our times.

“Yes,” the DC Hustler says. “But he’s infamous for being one of those with the ability and know how but not the heart to hold true to the code. History in DC will always know Rayful for being a bitch. We don’t remember nothing that he did before the day he snitched. True DC niggas don’t honor no rats.” But still Edmonds exploits have been documented in film and in print. The Life of Rayful Edmond was released in 2005 by Kirk Fraser, a former Howard University student. “This is the first real movie about DC.” Fraser said. “It’s about Edmonds rise and fall in the game. How he made it and what brought him down.” Instrumental in the making of the film was Curtis (Curtbone) Chambers. The film has received positive reviews even though its said to be sympathetic to Rayful. In the film Ray’s attorney and Curtbone both describe how Ray didn’t really understand how much evidence was piling up against him. Ray thought because he didn’t actually touch the drugs he was safe. But that wasn’t true. And the movie omitted the defining characteristic of Edmonds whole ordeal – that he became a rat so much for a true story.

“History will remember Rayful Edmond as a snitch,” the DC Hustler says. “As a coward, as a turncoat. He is part of the reason why Rome is so hip to us the true players and macks in the game. As one of those who broke down like a bitch and gave Rome the upper hand. Remember how Rayful Edmond and those like him got a lot of warriors fucked up. I know I will.” And to finish thies piece we’ll conclude with one of the men Rayful set up Christopher Johnson’s words, “It’s like this with me. If you’re in the game period not just drugs but anything illegal. When your ass get caught shut the fuck up and stand the fuck up. Go to trial or cop out but don’t drag nobody else in your part. You crab ass nigga. That’s for all the hot niggas reading this.”

“He snitched because he was fucked up that dudes in the street owed him money and wouldn’t pay. He didn’t do that shit for his mom.” Mr. T

“A rat is a rat anyway you look at it and Slim is a world class snitch.” USP Lewisburg Convict

“Slim fucked up. He’s a rat and a faggot.” Da Kid from SE

“We don’t recognize hot bammas.” The DC Hustler

The Sentences

Rayful Edmond 2 – life sentences
Johnny Monford – 405 months
Columbus Daniels – life
Jerry Millington – life
Armartetta Perry – 405 months
James Jones – life
David McGraw – 292 months
Emmanual Sutton – 320 months
Keith Cooper – 320 months
Bootsie Perry – 14 years (reduced)
Tony Lewis – life
Bernice McGraw – 235 months
Melvin Bulter – 405 months

Those Rayful set up

Christopher Johnson
Adolph Jackson
Darrell Coles
Jimmy Robinson
Anthony Smither
Marcus Haynes
Lecount Jackson
Rodney Murphy
Richard Deane
Johnny Cherry

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