As infamous as he was flamboyant, Detroit Crack-Era kingpin Edward (Big Ed) Hanserd is out of prison. Earlier this month, the 56-year old Hanserd, sometimes also referred to on the street as “Black Ed” or “Eddie Money,” was placed in a halfway house in California, following more than 25 years behind bars. He pled guilty to federal narcotics trafficking and firearm offenses in 1991 after being indicted and jailed two years before on state weapons charges. According to the Federal Bureau of Prison’s website, he’s scheduled to be discharged from his Sacramento, California halfway house in early November.

Hanserd was the prime suspect in ordering one of the Motor City’s most notorious gangland homicides ever carried out – the 1988 hospital-room slaying of his equally flashy drug-dealing rival Richard (Maserati Rick) Carter –, however has never faced any form of murder charges. Federal prosecutors estimated Hanserd’s east side Detroit drug-empire was netting tens of million dollars a year at the time of his final July 1989 arrest while walking out of suburban Southfield’s Northland Mall and getting into his candy-apple-colored BMW sedan.

His fleet of automobiles featured a number of glitzy rides, like his custom-made Porsche and Ferrari, which he had built as replicas of cars driven by actors Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas on the smash television show Miami Vice. Informants told DEA agents in Detroit, California and Florida, Hanserd routinely blew six-figures on lavish nightclub and gambling outings and would often be carrying as much as $50,000 or more in cash on him at any one time.

“We’d hear crazy stories about his spending habits and our surveillance photos always showed these high-fashion ensembles he’d be wearing, with like 10 pounds of jewelry around his neck and wrist,” recalled one retired DEA agent. “You knew he was for real though, he wasn’t to be taken lightly just because he fell into that kind of cliché drug boss role with how he carried himself. The guy was loud and brash. But he could back his talk up. The men he learned from were some of the most respected and revered street legends his side of town had ever seen. They trained him well. They taught him on to make money and I guess they also taught him how to spend it too.”

Beginning his organization straight out of Detroit’s Osborn High School in the early 1980s, fast-talking, ambitious and stylish, Big Ed Hanserd headquartered his operations out of a series of hair salons that he stationed across the city’s east side. Through his youth, he did errands for local gangsters Francis (Big Frank Nitti) Usher and Waymon (World Benji) Kinkaid, providing a blueprint for his future ascent in the drug game.

Originally, the swagger-filled Hanserd was being supplied marijuana by Maserati Rick Carter and eventually cocaine from Carter and the suave and business-minded Demetrius Holloway, Carter’s childhood friend and boss. Holloway was the state of Michigan’s quintessential 1980s era drug lord, emerging from prison in 1985 and within months rising to the apex of the Detroit underworld. Both him and Maserati Rick were born-and-raised eastsiders and were close to pro boxing champion Thomas (Tommy the Hitman) Hearns. Holloway and Carter, a former aspiring pugilist himself, were part of Hearns’ entourage at more than one of his title-winning fights in his heyday.

Tommy Hearns, "Maserati Rick" Carter & then Mayor of Detroit Coleman Young

Tommy Hearns, “Maserati Rick” Carter & then Mayor of Detroit Coleman Young circa 1980

Carter and Hanserd began a bitter feud in the summer of 1987 regarding the fact that Hanserd had begun bringing in his own product from California through his new west coast coke connection, iconic L.A. kingpin Richard (Freeway Ricky) Ross. A loud argument in one of Hanserd’s salons erupted into a gun fight, one of several that occurred between the two over the ensuing 14 months. Hanserd would be wounded in an attack in the winter of 1988, refusing to name Carter as the shooter to responding police.

On September 10, 1988, Hanserd is alleged to have shot Maserati Rick Carter and severely injured him outside Carter’s car-wash headquarters. Hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Detroit’s Mt. Carmel Hospital, Carter was shot to death in his private room by an assailant wearing a white doctor’s jacket and surgical scrubs two days later on September 12.

Hanserd’s No. 1 enforcer, Lodrick (Ricky the Hitman) Parker was acquitted at trial of being the shooter in the high-profile hospital slaying. Carter, 29, was laid to rest in a $25,000 gold-rimmed Mercedes-Benz coffin. Parker is serving life in prison for a firebombing and shooting linked to his extortion of an area candle shop in the early 1990s.

Holloway was killed in similar brazen fashion: shot in the back of the head as he paid for a pair of Ralph Lauren Polo-brand socks on October 8, 1990 inside the trendy Broadway men’s clothing store in Downtown Detroit. Although he had been in prison for more than a year, DPD detectives and the FBI questioned Hanserd related to him either ordering or helping coordinate Holloway’s murder. “World Benji” Kincaid – incarcerated on murder charges since the 1970s – has long been suspected for playing a possible role in putting out the hit on Holloway as well as the lethal Best Friends Gang led by the Brown brothers (Terrance aka “Boogaloo” & Reggie aka “Rocking Reg”), Holloway’s own enforcement branch that had gone rogue and declared war against their boss.

At his sentencing hearing in 1991, Hanserd made a scene when he was denied the right to reconsider his guilty plea and began hollering at U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Hackett, “Railroad court, railroad court, I’m God Damn not guilty!”

“Ed was about getting his and telling you about it,” one former associate remembers. “Everybody respected his hustle.”

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