The quiet storm that was the 1970s Detroit drug empire led by Eddie (The Fat Man) Jackson is getting a deep dive this week in the acclaimed Crimetown podcast. Jackson ruled over the booming Motown heroin trade in the mid-1970s with panache and prudence, gaining a reputation for being a gentleman gangster and bridging the gap between two unruly, savage eras in the local drug world at the front and back end of the decade.

Produced by award-winning Gimlet Media out of New York and co-created by Oscar-nominated documentarian Marc Smerling, Crimetown focuses on the convergence of politics, culture and crime throughout the course of different city’s history each season. The Motor City is the subject of Season 2, after exploring Providence in Season 1 and procuring a scripted-television option from FX.

Season 2 premiered earlier this month. Episodes 3 and 4 center on the Jackson organization and feature interviews with Jackson’s second-in-charge Courtney (The Field Marshal) Brown and former lieutenants Thomas (Black Butch) Stearns and Charles (The Great Dolph) Rudolph. Black Butch was Jackson’s bodyguard and right-hand man. Listen to the podcast here.

Jackson rose to prominence in the wake of Detroit’s Black Godfather and resident dope baron Henry (Blaze) Marzette, a former decorated Detroit narcotics detective turned crime lord, dying of kidney failure in 1972. Jackson had been mentored in the drug game by Marzette and was able to stay out of the fray when Marzette went to war with a set of mafia-backed enemies in the years leading up to his passing. Marzette unsuccessfully tried to consolidate all the city’s Black heroin czars under a single banner as a means of cutting out their Italian mob wholesalers.

With the Fat Man at the helm of the city’s heroin trade, the fighting ceased and the portly kingpin made using violence as only a last-resort measure a hallmark of his legacy. The Fat Man instructed his troops to be street diplomats, not thugs. Jackson’s wholesale source was Italian mobster Carmine (The Doctor) Lombardozzi, a captain from New York’s notorious Gambino crime family.

The Jackson crew supplied drugs to many of the Motown Records music artists of the day and would often party with famous African-American comedians traveling through town like Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx. Urban fiction author Donald Goines was a Jackson confidant and used the Fat Man as an inspiration for characters in his many novels over the course of his writing career.

The party for Jackson and his organization was broken up in the spring of 1977 when Jackson was jailed by the feds on a trafficking conviction from years prior, setting the stage for the ascendance of the innovative, yet bloodthirsty Young Boys, Incorporated gang. He was released from federal prison in 1983 on an appeal bond, however, was back behind bars within a year and a half for further involvement in narcotics sales. Jackson died in prison in 1995 of heart-related issues at 51 years old.

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