With the fall of the Young Boys Incorporated a few other drug crews picked up their ruthless tactics and organizational structure. No other street gang or drug organization at the time utilized the blueprint left by Y.B.I, better than the Chambers Brothers organization.
The Chambers Brothers were originally from Arkansas. They ran their drug business like an upstart company and became giants in the Detroit drug market by identifying the growth of the crack cocaine industry. They started manufacturing crack, started sales divisions, set up strict quality control and advertised discount prices. “The Chambers Brothers ran their crew like a real business,” a dude from the era says. “They acted as if they were running a legitimate Fortune 500 company, only their product was crack.” And business was booming.
“The Chambers Brothers ran the largest crack distribution network in Michigan and controlled more than half of the crack houses in Detroit, bringing in an estimated one million to three million dollars a day,” Roy C. Hayes, the United States Attorney at the time said. The brothers Billy Jo, Larry, Willie and Otis used discount coupons and two-for-one sales specials to lure buyers to the highly addictive drug. They had as many as five hundred employees; so many that they issued their workers ID cards with snapshots to keep track of them. To motivate their workers the Chambers Brothers had sales competitions at the hundreds of crack houses they ran or that were franchised by their crew. “The Chambers Brothers ran the city,” the dude from the era says. “They had shit on lock.”
Crude charts of the organization’s structure and handwritten bylaws were often posted on the walls of their crack houses to reflect the rigorous discipline instilled by Larry, the most ruthless of the four brothers. While Billy Jo, or B.J. as most called him, was a more lenient boss, Larry was the exact opposite and was known to be a tyrant and very violent towards workers that broke his code of conduct. “Larry would shoot somebody in a minute,” the dude from the era said. “He didn’t fuck around.” He often warned workers to never carry drugs and money at the same time. He also instructed them to never wear flashy gold chains or expensive sneakers when dropping off drugs or picking up money. His motto to his workers was, “If you plan on getting rich than you got to forget about partying, your girlfriends and families and dedicate yourself to the drug game.”
In time, with so much money coming in, the Chambers Brothers became so arrogant that they started making MTV cribs-style home videos of themselves, counting stacks of money and showing off gold faucets in their bathrooms and many other spoils of their wealth. Some of the videotapes were confiscated by Detroit police officers during a raid on one of the organizations crack houses and later broadcast by news anchor Bill Bonds on Channel 7 Action News.
In one of the videos that aired Willie is seen counting large stacks of bills in the kitchen as he gleefully screams out “Money, Money, Money” and then brags that after counting out fifty thousand from a few of the stacks, that it was too much money to count. He then goes on to brag, how he was going to the dealership the next day and buy himself three cars and a Jeep. After that he asks Larry what they should do with all the one dollar bills and Larry replies, “I’ll tell you what we can do with them, we can give them to the poor.”
The Chambers Brothers organization amassed great wealth in their brief reign, but the four brothers and eight members of their organization were indicted and sentenced to long federal prison terms after an eighteen month investigation by the FBI, ATF and DEA. Officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Detroit Police Department seized over a million dollars in cash and jewelry, 68 automobiles and 250 weapons from the organization. They also linked at least four murders to them, but the murders were never proved in court.
Billy Jo has since been released after serving more than 20 years, while Larry and a few other members of the organization such as Eric “Fats” Wilkins are still in prison to this day. The 1991 film, New Jack City and its character Nino Brown, along with his portrayal of running a large drug operation out of The Carter Apartments, was largely based on Larry, and an apartment building that he was known to control on Palmer and E. Ferry Street on Detroit’s Eastside. “They made that movie about Larry Chambers,” a dude from that era says. “The screenwriter even said so.”
Around the same time as the rise and fall of the Chambers organization another drug crew was looking to make Detroit their personal kingdom of crime and that crew was none other than childhood friends Richard “Maserati Rick” Carter and Demetrius Holloway along with teenage drug kingpin Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe. White Boy Rick was a baby-faced, blonde haired, blue eyed, white kid who grew up in the middle-class fringes of Metro Detroit. By the time he reached puberty he had transformed into a prolific teenage drug kingpin in the cutthroat streets of the Murder City. “White Boy Rick was selling mad kilos,” a dude affiliated with the crew says. “He had a good connect that kept the coke flowing.” Unknown to many, Rick was a mere puppet for the FBI and DEA, who recruited him at the age of fourteen, and pushed him into the role of a drug lord, only to help them take down other dealers such as Holloway and Carter.
White Boy Rick kept his secret of playing for TEAM USA for two years, before he tried to trade in his jersey and play for the other team. Less than a year later, at the age of seventeen he was linked to eight kilos of cocaine found by authorities and arrested and charged with possession and intent to deliver over 650 grams of cocaine. On January 15, 1988, Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe was convicted and sentenced to life in prison under Michigan’s draconian 650 lifer law, which carried a mandatory life sentence for anyone caught and convicted of possession of more than 650 grams or more of cocaine. Even though the 650 law has since been abolished, White Boy Rick is still locked up to this day, with no maximum release date.
With White Boy Rick supplying them drugs before his conviction, along with other suppliers such as Eastside kingpin Johnny Curry, Richard “Maserati Rick” Carter and Demetrius Holloway blossomed into kingpins themselves. They controlled one of the most prominent drug networks operating on the Eastside of Detroit. “Maserati Rick and Demetrius Holloway were making big money,” the dude from the era says. “They were bosses in their own right.”
Backed by Terence “Boogaloo” Brown and his brother Reginald “Rockin Regg” Brown’s notorious murder for hire gang, the Best Friends, Maserati Rick’s operation took off allowing him to live and spend lavishly. To mask the proceeds of his drug business Rick invested millions of dollars in local businesses which served as pick up and drop off spots for his workers and runners. “Maserati Rick was real organized,” the dude from the era says. “He had his shit running tight.”
Everything was going smooth for Rick until the day he and another Eastside heavyweight “Big Ed” Hanserd, got into a heated argument over a drug debt. The two would face off numerous times with gunfire, but on September 10, 1988 while outside one of his businesses, Rick was shot in the stomach leaving him hospitalized, but during the shootout Rick left one of Big Ed’s soldiers, Lodrick Parker wounded also. Two days later, Parker who was known as one of the most dangerous gangsters on the Eastside, entered Rick’s hospital room #307 at Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital and shot and killed Rick with one shot to his head and another to his face, while he lay recuperating from his wounds.
But it would be Rick’s death and how he was buried that would cement him as a legend in Detroit’s underworld. Rick was laid to rest in a sixteen thousand dollar silver coffin constructed to resemble a Mercedes Benz, complete with working headlights and spinning tires. “Maserati Rick went out like achamp,” the dude from the era says. “They laid him out like a real boss.”
Demetrius Holloway, who was also a childhood friend of Detroit boxing legend Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, was a little more reserved than Rick, but was once credited by federal agents for being responsible for over 80 percent of Detroit’s cocaine trade. Holloway emerged as one of the city’s major drug players after doing a brief stint in a federal prison during the early-1980s.
In 1986, on two separate occasions, Holloway was arrested for petty offenses while carrying in total more than $127,000 in cash. According to the U.S. Customs agents in the Bahamas, they arrested a few groups of women headed to Detroit with kilos of cocaine that they linked to Holloway. The women were reportedly paid $1,500 per trip to transport the drugs for Holloway. “Demetrius had his shit running right,” the dude from the era says. “He was getting in that A-l coke.”
After his best friend and drug partner Maserati Rick’s murder, Holloway staged his own kidnapping and murder and went into hiding in an attempt to distance himself from both his enemies and authorities, but he returned to Detroit several months later. “Holloway was smart,” the dude from the era says. “He played the game on a different level.” For a while he was a survivor, evading killers and convictions that dogged his boyhood pals like Maserati and White Boy Rick, but the odds finally caught up with Demetrius Holloway.
He dodged indictments and rivals for a few years before dying a gangster’s death. On October 8, 1990, Holloway was gunned down in broad daylight while inside of a popular downtown Detroit clothing store, The Broadway, just two blocks away from the Detroit Police Headquarters. He was shot in the back of the head twice while shopping and reportedly had more than $14,000 and a loaded .32 caliber pistol in his pocket.
It was rumored that Holloway was killed by members of the Best Friends, the same treacherous murder for hire gang that provided muscle for him and Maserati Rick. It was also rumored at the time of his death that a federal drug indictment against Holloway was imminent. But the streets will never know.
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