The Story of Detroit’s Chambers Brothers & The REAL ‘Crack Commandments’

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Released back into the free world on April 29, 1985 after nearly 40 months behind bars, Larry is quick to reunite with his baby brothers. Larry knew B.J. , at that time hiding out in Arkansas for the past six months, was making major money dealing drugs up in Detroit and he wanted in on the new family business. Having always looked up to and admired his older brother growing up, even though most of his contact with him was in prison visiting rooms, B.J. offers to bring Larry into his operation without hesitation, encouraged by how transformative his years in prison had been for him. The pair hook-up at the family farm in Marianna and spend a good few months getting to know each other, sharing ideas, good times and a slew of beautiful woman whom B.J. always had on tap no matter where he was.

Although in self-imposed exile in Marianna for almost a full year, B.J. kept tabs on his interests in Detroit via Jerry Gant and his brother David, who he had left in charge of his organization while he was away. This newfound “hands-off” approach to his drug operations, while aiding to ease his psyche and allowing him to relax at the Chambers family homestead down in the Delta without the worry of police harassment, proved bad for business. The suitcases and garbage bags filled with cash being delivered from up north on a monthly basis to B.J. in Arkansas over that time period got continuously smaller. Being out of town was severely cutting into his bottom line. The numbers didn’t lie and he couldn’t ignore them.

“J-Man” and David were not up to the task and faltered at maintaining status quo when their boss was away. As the summer of 1985 went into full swing, B.J. had no other choice but to get into the car with Larry and head back to Detroit to recharge the battery of the family business himself, up close and personal. Little did he know just how much his big brother would end up helping out in the process and how epic their collaboration would end up being when it was all said and done.

B.J. and Larry touch back down in Detroit in July and immediately go about getting the organization back in order. Disappointed with his underlings lack of drive and self-motivation, B.J. brooms his entire staff with the exception of Gant and his brothers, Joe, David, Willie and Danny and decides to start fresh. Things were not up to par and he blamed those he surrounded himself with. His siblings got a pass because they were blood. Gant was practically a brother to him so he was exempt too. Everyone else however got the axe.

Little Terry Colbert and Boogaloo Driscoll were let go because they had started to get high themselves and would often neglect their work duties in favor of smoking the cocaine they were being paid to sell. They thought they could hide their increasingly troublesome habits, but B.J. was well aware of what was going on. In B.J.s mind, he had no time for slackers. Business was business and time was money. Both were gone the minute B.J. returned to town.

Giving Larry his own wing of the family business to run by himself, B.J. assembles a new group of foot soldiers, mostly made up of young Arkansas-bred teenagers recruited North for work in the drug game, to manufacture and sell crack on his behalf in what starts out as a half-dozen different houses, but soon swells to well over 50. He replaces Colbert and Driscoll in his inner-circle with Anthony “Tony the Tiger” Alexander and Eric “Fats” Wilkins, two 19 year old Detroiters who are spry, hungry and hot tempered and uses them as his conduits to the streets for day-to-day control of business operations. Fellow Marianna-native, Marshall “Cadillac Mario” Glenn established himself as the main go-between for B.J.’s and Larry’s personal entourages and a key liason to things back on the homefront in Arkansas.

There was little adjustment time for Larry. From almost the moment he hit the city, he was thrown into the deep end of the pool without any form of a life preserver. It was all the same really though, since there was no other way Larry would have liked it. Despite the fact that he had been locked up for the better part of the past 15 years, B.J. had tremendous faith in his big brother and entrusted him with a large portion of responsibility right away. To put it mildly, Larry was a fast learner, thriving in his new role as drug lord right off the bat. He hit the ground running and never looked back.

Just like B.J., Larry grabs a handful of Arkansas transplants as workers, gets a pair of formidable top lieutenants in Roderick “Hot Rod” Byrd and William “Jack Frost” Jackson and immediately takes over control of several of the family’s drug houses. Eager to stay busy in his free time away from the narcotics business and to keep feeding his mind the way he did in prison with his voracious reading, during the week days Larry starts taking classes on Spanish and music history at Wayne State University. He also learns how to play an instrument, enrolling in classes at the university that teach him the clarinet and saxophone. Soon after arriving in the Motor City, Larry begins dating a local young girl named, Belinda Lumpkin, all of 15 years old at the time and some two decades his junior.

As he stacks money in his first couple months on the job, Larry has Belinda move in with him in the downstairs flat of a two-home residence owned by his brother David on Knodell and Gratiot. It was meager and common, yet only the beginning. The best of what life had to offer was just on the horizon. There was no rush. In his old age, Larry had become a patient man. While he was once haphazard in his movements, now he was deliberate and calculated. These newfound virtues were about to be rewarded.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This was a very interesting story. The Chambers Brothers successively became major kingpin drug dealers they were books and served long jail sentences I meant BJ a couple years ago. Very smart young man.

  2. I love this article about the Chambers Brothers because they might be related to me. My dad James Chambers was from Hope, Arkansas. It doesn’t matter that they have committed crimes, I would like to at least get to know if we were related somehow. I will pray for them, everybody makes mistakes. They had the intellect to run a business a big business that shows you they had qualifications to do other work, but like the article said it just didn’t pan out. It is sad that that is the face of many, many of our young men today. Qualified but nobody will hire. I hope they have repented so that God can bless them.

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