Best Friends

HollowyIf Butch Jones was the quintessential Motor City drug kingpin of the early 1980s, Demetrius Holloway held that title for the latter half of the decade. Holloway was a business man’s gangster with a lethal reputation on the streets. He dressed like a corporate CEO, yet wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when the situation called for it. Smart, magnetic, feared and respected, Holloway embodied every quality of the consummate crime lord. It was a powerful mix that took him to astronomic heights.

“It sounds clichéd, but in this case it couldn’t be more true, if Demetrius had been brought up under different socioeconomic conditions, he could have been a business mogul or a CEO of a major corporation,” said Steve Fishman, his attorney at the time of his death. “That obviously didn’t happen and he became the Demetrius Holloway we all know today, but I know he had a lot of natural qualities that would have translated to the legitimate world. He was razor sharp and an entrepreneur in the most basic sense. People gravitated to him.”

Starting out as a dispute of Frank Usher and his Murder Row gang back in the 1970s. Holloway took a bust for transporting stolen goods across state lines in 1980 and did five years in federal prison. Released in 1985, he hit the streets and began to cobble together his legacy. Using an inheritance from his grandfather and some money he had stashed away before being incarcerated, he purchased his first major cocaine shipment from Art Derrick and Doc Curry. Parlaying the money he made from his early drug sales. Holloway put together a successful legitimate business portfolio. Within two years, he was supplying over three quarters of the city’s crack houses.

Quickly emerging as the city’s top wholesaler, Holloway sold most of his drugs to the Chambers Brothers gang, a drug empire headed by four siblings from Arkansas who operated over 100 crack houses throughout southeast Michigan. He became close with the gang’s two leaders, B.J. and Larry, and they became his workhorses. B.J. ran all the street activities and Larry bought the Broadmore apartment complex on West Grand Boulevard and turned it into a vice emporium, a one-stop shop offering drugs, sex and gambling 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By maintaining ownership of a popular chain of athletic shoe stores called The Sports Jam and hulking quantities of real estate both locally and across the country, Holloway was able to wash his money just as fast as he was making it. Known as a heavy gambler, he frequently jaunted to Las Vegas and Atlantic City for card and dice binges that could either win or lose him hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time.

Born on the East Side of the city, Demetrius Holloway grew up in the same neighborhood and the same social circles as future world-champion prizefighter Tommy Hearns. Before he got into a life of crime, he tried to live on the straight and narrow, taking a job as a postman. But it was a half-hearted venture. Holloway was drawn to the streets like a moth to a flame. And he was a natural. Headquartering his operations in the Chalk and Cue, a pool hall he ran on West Seven Mile, Holloway recruited his childhood friend Richard “Maserati Rick” Carter to be his right-hand man and immediately started a rapid ascension up the gangland ranks. Before long, he went from buying a dozen kilos at a time from Art Derrick and Doc Curry to consummating a wholesale deal with Colombians in the Bahamas, cutting out the middle men and smuggling the bricks through U.S. Customs himself.

“Demetrius was a true Don,” Rob Boyd recalled. “Him and Maserati Rick were holding it down for real. Rick was more flamboyant, but Demetrius was calling all the major shots. They both used to hit the clubs all iced up and sporting full-length mink coats. We all knew from the day Demetrius got out of prison from doing his five-piece in 85, it was only a matter of time before he became The Man. That’s just how he was. A Couple of old G’s hooked him up to start and he got his feet wet, learned the new game on the street, which was crack, and blew up quick.”

While Holloway was dangerous but deliberate, those he surrounded himself with were brash and ruthless with absolutely no method to their madness, and they would turn out to be his downfall. Quick to remove himself from the day-to-day street operations of his organization, Holloway outsourced much of his strong-arm work. Maserati Rick, although an able-bodied enforcer – he was a Golden Gloves boxing champ as a teenager – and Holloway’s eyes and ears on the street, was only one man. He needed help and a crew of heavily strapped foot soldiers watching his back. That help would come in the form of the Brown brothers, four siblings, each a year a part in age, raised on the East Side, who headed a crew of like-minded goons called “The Best Friends.” Terrance “Boogaloo” Brown, Reginald “Rocking Reggie” Brown, Gregory “Ghost” Brown, and Ezra “Wizard” Brown were hungry for a piece of the pie in the local underworld and made sure everyone knew it with their quick-trigger antics.

Scowling and brutish, they each cut imposing figures, all standing, six-fee-two and weighing over 234 pounds. Ghost and Wizard, the two eldest brothers, had t-shirts, jackets and hats made up with the words “Best Friends” embroidered across the front in big, bold letters. They were all known to drive the same cars – different color BMWs or custom-made Suzuki Samurais – and kill anyone who dared get in the way of their climb to the top. Not to mention countless others. While its predecessors like YBI and Pony Down murdered in the name of profit and greed, the Best Friends did it for pure fun. Upon meeting the Browns and their crew at a downtown nightclub, Holloway tabbed them his official enforcement unit and began dispatching them to mete out justice on the street as he saw fit. They were burly and intimidating and took pleasure in hurting people.

“There was a no-tolerance policy with Demetrius,” said Boyd. “If you crossed him once, you were done. Maserati, on the other hand, who was Demetrius’ guy on the street, was more laid back and some people probably thought they could take advantage of it. That was why they brought in the Best Friends to use as muscle. They were straight thugs, coldhearted killers that hired themselves out for different enforcement jobs. Eventually things got out of hand with them and Demetrius and Rick couldn’t control their activities anymore.”

detroit true crimeThis is an excerpt from The Detroit True Crime Chronicles. Available at www.Amazon.com

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