The Detroit Drug Wars of the 1980s rocked and ravished the Motor City streets, as African-American crime lords on both the city’s eastside and westside battled for control of the local cocaine and heroin trade throughout the decade, birthing a seemingly-endless parade of eye-catching press clippings and rampant, reckless bloodshed. While the westside Young Boys, Incorporated (YBI) garnered the majority of the dubious headlines in the early 1980s, Demetrius Holloway, Richard (Maserati Rick) Carter and their allies-turned-enemies, the murderous Best Friends Gang on the eastside moved to the forefront of discussion in the late 1980s – the craziness even bleeding over into the first part of the 1990s.

DETROIT DRUG WARS –The Dark Era (1979-1993)

July 18, 1979: The Michigan Federated Democratic Social Club Massacre: The Motor City’s Murder Row Gang was torn apart by an internal feud, resulting in the gang’s No. 1 enforcer Adolph (Doc Holiday) Powell declaring war on Murder Row boss Francis (Big Frank Nitti) Usher and staging an attack on him and two of his most trusted lieutenants, William (Dirty Dirt) McJoy and William (Straw Hat Perry) Jackson at Usher’s Michigan Federated Democratic Social Club headquarters. When the dust settled that day, McJoy, Jackson and Jackson’s girlfriend, Joanne Clark were killed and decapitated, foreshadowing the treachery and wanton violence that lied ahead in the coming decade.

*Powell was acquitted at trial for the triple murder, but shockingly Usher was found guilty instead, almost a decade prior to having the conviction thrown out of court and beating the charges at his subsequent retrial.

March 28, 1982 – Detroit Police Department undercover narcotics detective William Green is shot to death by Young Boys, Inc. lieutenant Cary Goins as Green was in the process of arresting a group of barely-adolescent street corner pushers he was responsible for. YBI was notorious for using elementary-school aged kids to push their products on area playgrounds.

August 18, 1982 — YBI lieutenant Herman Amos is killed following a falling out with his first cousin, YBI boss Milton (Butch) Jones.

September 28, 1982 – YBI co-founder Dwayne (Wonderful Wayne) Davis is gunned down on a Northwest Detroit street corner, shot in the back of the head at point-blank range after a falling out with fellow YBI co-founders Milton (Butch) Jones and Raymond (Baby Ray) Peoples. The flashy, fashionable and fiercely entrepreneurial, “W.W.” had recently returned to Motown following trips to Boston and Seattle, respectively, were he had planted flags for his new “H2O” crew and recruited muscle to bring back with him to Michigan.

January 22, 1983 – Former Murder Row Gang leader Adolph (Doc Holiday) Powell is slain with a shotgun blast to the head as he took a shot of cognac at La Player’s Lounge on the eastside. Powell, a transplant from New Orleans, was under suspicion for being a federal informant and wasn’t able to keep the Murder Row organization together once Usher was out of the picture behind bars.

May 12, 1983 – YBI member Joseph (Wamp) Brown is shot dead on the westside Detroit street corner he manned for an imprisoned Baby Ray Peoples, the first salvo in a nasty two-year blood feud that raged between YBI co-founders Peoples and Butch Jones. On his deathbed, Brown named two of Jones’ favorite hit men, Curtis (Kurt McGurk) Napier and Maurice (Mo Heart) Gibbs, as the triggermen in his attack.

*Gregory (Special K) Kendricks, another Peoples lieutenant, survives a separate shooting that same day

June 17, 1983 – YBI affiliate drug dealer William (Chilly Willie) Hunter is killed on the city’s westside as tensions between an indictment-crippled YBI and rival upstart the Pony Down Gang headed by the Buttrom brothers rise to a boiling point through late 1982 and into 1983, resulting in a string of shootings and murders.

February 7, 1984 – YBI enforcer and Baby Ray Peoples’ bodyguard Norman (Big Snead) Johnson is machine-gunned to death on Detroit’s westside.

April 30, 1984 – Independent westside Detroit drug peddler Jerry Kenny is killed in a territorial dispute with YBI after Kenny refused to stop dealing on an YBI-claimed street corner.

May 30, 1984 – YBI member and Baby Ray Peoples loyalist Ricky (G-Funk) Gracey is tortured and murdered execution style in an attempted robbery of Butch Jones’ suburban Detroit home with Jones just shipped off to prison and his wife and 10-year old son occupying the domicile when the break-in occurred.

June 22, 1984 – YBI member and Baby Ray Peoples loyalist Dennis (D-Boogie) Bankston is found machine gunned to death, slumped over the wheel of his Cadillac in a Northwest Detroit parking lot. Bankston allegedly planned the ill-fated robbery of the Jones residence in Troy, Michigan less than a month before and was an early mentor of Peoples on the street.

July 17, 1984 – YBI member and Baby Ray Peoples’ driver and bodyguard Carl (GQ) Garrett is slain in a drive-by shooting as he sat on his moped at a traffic light in Northwest Detroit. Garrett was Bankston’s stepson and helped him plan the botched heist of Jones’ house.

July 23, 1984 – YBI member and Baby Ray Peoples loyalist Reggie Stringer is slain for his role in the attempt robbery of the Jones residence.

September 1984 – Independent westside drug dealers Shona Terrell Bryce & James Harriel are killed in the same two-week period after failing to bow to YBI demands. Harriel, who was bumped off on September 29, was with Bryce when he was gunned down on September 16 leaving his home.

August 10, 1985 – YBI co-founder Raymond (Baby Ray) Peoples is murdered behind the wheel of his car idling at a westside Detroit street corner less than four months after his release from prison. The Peoples hit brings the curtain down on the transformational YBI era in the Motor City and ushered in the true start of the crack wars.

December 20, 1986 – Best Friends Gang co-founder Ezra (Wizard) Brown is killed on the eastside of Detroit sitting in his car chatting with his brother “Ghost” in a drive-by shooting

December 27, 1986 – Best Friends Gang co-founder Gregory (Ghost) Brown is shot to death leaving an eastside Detroit bar the night of his brother Wizard Brown’s funeral

June 13, 1987 – Best Friends Gang enforcer Patrick (Lunchmeat) Jackson is killed for allegedly stealing from the remaining two Brown brothers, Reggie (Rocking Reggie) Brown and Terrance (Boogaloo) Brown. Jackson died a suspect in several murders.

August 7, 1987 – Flint, Michigan Best Friend Gang affiliate Mark Murray is found shot to death in a Genesee County ditch after allegedly stealing from the Brown brothers. The Best Friends, like YBI before them, expanded into Flint, a smoggy factory town about an hour’s drive north of Detroit

September 20, 1987 – Eastside Detroit drug dealer Stephen (Freaky Steve) Roussell is shot to death as he slept on his couch by Rocking Reggie Brown after the two had engaged in a longstanding beef over a girl.

September 12, 1988 – Detroit drug chief, Richard (Maserati Rick) Carter, is brazenly executed in his hospital-room bed recovering from a bullet wound to the stomach suffered two days earlier in a shootout with eastside drug game rival Edward (Big Ed) Hanserd. Carter was shot in the head at point-blank range by an assassin dressed in a doctor’s coat.

October 14, 1988 – Monster Squad lieutenant Steve (Little Stevie) Washington, best friend and driver for Monster Squad boss Cliff Jones is slain, shot to death behind the wheel of his gold-colored Mercedes-Benz on an eastside Detroit street corner. The Monster Squad replaced the Best Friends as Demetrius Holloway and Maserati Rick Carter’s main enforcement crew.

February 20, 1989 – Detroit Iraqi mob street boss and drug kingpin Harry Kalasho is murdered on the near Northwest side of Detroit, gunned down in a drive-by shooting in the middle of a turf war within the clannish crime family allegedly founded by his uncle Lou Akrawi

March 16, 1989 – Eastside Detroit drug kingpin James (Mr. Big) Lamont is slain as he sat at a traffic light in front of the St. Regis Hotel in the heart of Midtown on W. Grand Boulevard, shot to death by the Best Friends in a territory dispute.

August 24, 1990 – Eastside Detroit drug dealer Dexter (Def Jam Dex) Washington is murdered in the aftermath of a proposed consolidation effort of all eastside narcotics operations failed and erupted in more bloodshed instead. Washington’s slaying is one of five over the next two months tied to the unrest the proposition caused.

August 31, 1990 – Best Friends Gang enforcer Mark Patrick is killed when the Brown brothers believe he has too much weight on them in regards to his  knowledge and participation in dozens of gangland slayings at their direct orders.

September 17, 1990 – Eastside Detroit drug chief, Clyde Carter and his fiancé Patty Scott are slain in mid-conversation in front of Scott’s residence. Carter was Maserati Rick’s brother and right-hand man and apparently was the loudest in rebuking the consolidation attempt weeks prior.

October 8, 1990 – Legendary Motown drug kingpin Demetrius Holloway is murdered inside The Broadway, a popular men’s clothier in Downtown Detroit, shot in the back of the head as he was purchasing a pair of designer socks at the front counter. Who gave the order to hit Holloway, known as the first and original “Big Meech,” has remained a mystery to this day.

May 12, 1992 – Best Friends Gang lieutenant Alfred (Chip) Austin and three innocent bystanders, including a 3-year old baby girl, were killed as Rocking Reggie Brown, out on bond while under indictment for the Freaky Steve Roussell murder, sprayed Austin’s porch with automatic weapon fire to prevent him from testifying at an upcoming court proceeding.

August 9, 1993 – Best Friends Gang co-founder and boss Terrance (Boogaloo) Brown is shot to death as he slept in his Atlanta hotel room on the run from the law in Detroit. Just months earlier, Brown murdered his top Best Friends Gang lieutenant James (Jimmy the Bruiser) Denard, who was on the run with him. Brown’s decision to clip Denard allegedly led to his two other top henchmen Stacy (The Machine) Culbert and Charles (Chuckie Do) Wilkes deciding they were next on their boss’ hit list and combining for a preemptive strike.

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