Wednesday, March 29, 2017

CITY IN THE GRIP OF CRACK COCAINE EPIDEMIC

By Juan Montoya
Each morning Minnie (not her real name) wakes up in some deserted building downtown where she had been smoking crack the night before. There is never a lack of those in and around the downtown area and she and her crackhead friends know them all.

If it's chilly, they go out to a dumpster behind a second-hand store downtown and grab a bunch of winter clothes and cuddle up in some dark corner.
Broken disposable lighters litter the floor of the darkened room, the detritus of the night's partying that came apart as the smokers try to keep the rocks lit. They guard their glass pipes jealously because it's hard to borrow one from another piedrero. Usually, it's hard to get them back. Most times the other absconds with it and keep is.

The crackheads know that the cops and drug task forces are out to put their suppliers out of business. Every so often, raids like the one taking place in the photo above are carried out by the Cameron County Sheriff's Department with assistance from the local cops and constables. Tio neighbors, it's not an uncommon scene.

"You know what is going on there," said a woman who lives near the house that was raided recently on Jackson Street. "People are coming in and going out all night. Today they didn't find any drugs, but two of the guys in there had outstanding warrants and they took them."

Minnie knows people downtown since she grew up in the neighborhood near the old Victoria Theater and 14th Street. She knows people in the nearby projects, and she still has some relatives who let her shower and give her a dollar or two to keep her going. A few blocks across the expressway is the 14th Street strip where she knows just about all the people who hang there.

Rock cocaine is relatively cheap. At $3 a pop, it's readily available in known crack houses in the nearby neighborhoods. She panhandles most of the time. Her knowledge of the bars and hangouts helps her hang where she can ask for a few dollars here and a few dollars there. Newcomers see her walking the street and feel sorry for her and give her a dollar or two.


Some of her crackhead friends make themselves useful to store owners unloading merchandise from trucks or doing odd chores for a few bucks to satisfy their craving. Others wash cars to make a buck.They know each other and form a  kind of Walking Dead club with skinny gaunt faces and hollow eyes.

The cops know them well. In fact, sometimes they use them as their eyes and ears to learn what is going on downtown underworld or to keep track of suspects they are looking for. They pump them for info surreptitiously so they won't be seen by others. There is nothing worse than a "relajo," or snitch, in their circles.

She has grown brazen about what she is going to do with her money,
"I need my medicine," she tells a stranger. "Do you want to go to La La Land with me?"

She knows that if she invites someone to take a puff of her rock, they are beholden to her in a kind of camaraderie in crime and that if they get hooked she'll have a steady contributor to her daily hustle. She tries to stay in the good graces of the bartenders and waitresses so she'll have a place where she can sit and ait on a prospective donors to her cause.

When the donations to her vice slow down, she is not above turning a trick or perform fellatio in some dark alley or in a car parked somewhere in the dark. She has been caught in prostitution stings before and her moral qualms have long disappeared. She knows she'll be in and out the same day because the cops don;t want to keep her and feed her.

On the first of the  month, the old guys want a turn on and she knows who is willing to pay for it. The first of the month when the Social Security and retirement checks is always a good time for her pickings. A trick is a trick is a rock is a rock...

Minnie walks out of the hole in the wall of the deserted building and into the sunlight. She needs some coin for her medicine, and, like an intern, she sets off on her daily rounds...

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

How much does she charge you for a trick juan? Whatever that is

Anonymous said...

Ay, Minnie. le puso Minnie. Ha ha ha

Anonymous said...

This pretty much gauges the level of this blog.

Anonymous said...

Nice piece

Diego Lee Rot said...

Beautifully written story I felt like I was right there in the room coveting my brothers crack pipe

Anonymous said...

On Jackson street, one block away from under the noses of the police
department. What vigiliance? Juan thinks of Minnie cause that is the name of one of his sources, right, Juan?

Anonymous said...

And you ask why people don't go downtown....crackheads, dickheads, thieves, and other "street people". Not a good advertisement for our "historic downtown area" that Tony Martinez has spent millions to protect and promote.

Anonymous said...

Was that our city attorney ?

Anonymous said...

What about all the beggars on 802 and expressway. and Morrison and Expressway... its suppose to be the nicer part of town and all you see is pale faced, skinny, deep eyed beggars that claim to have HIV and want food..

Ive offered food to a few of them and they told me "go away, thank you" at least he was polite, but they want money for their fix.

Its just a bad image - wink wink COB.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Child Protective Services should pay you a visit; see if you're an addict or just a pendejo who loves to post nonsense on the blogs.Feel bad for Jack,perhaps he should run away.

Anonymous said...

Capt. Bob For Mayor .

rita