The Boulder Boys Must Die

When federal prosecutors seek the death penalty in drug-related murders, the defendants are almost always black. Why should Miami's first "kingpin" case be any exception?

The two homicides at the center of the case took place within four days of each other and allegedly stemmed from the burglary of one of the drug holes. Neither of the victims was the intended target.

The first murder occurred on the evening of September 18, 1991. According to prosecutors, the Boulder Boys were looking for a man named Nathaniel Daley and heard his white Cadillac had been spotted in the Scott Homes area. Daley, though, no longer owned the car; he had sold it.

Prosecutors say the Cadillac's new owner, 21-year-old MacDonald Carey, had gone out to purchase crack that night and subsequently got a flat tire near the intersection of NW 24th Avenue and 73rd Terrace. "He decided to just smoke the rocks there, not far from where the seller was standing," Assistant U.S. Attorney Luis Perez stated during a pretrial hearing.

Moments later, the prosecution claims, Chedrick Crummie walked over to the Cadillac and riddled its occupant with bullets, then climbed into a car, which Kevin Rozier drove to Edward Mack's drug hole at Scott Homes a few blocks away. There Crummie is said to have announced to a group of bystanders who had heard the gunshots, "I just killed me a fuck nigger [sic]." A year later, a confidential informant allegedly was told by Rozier that Mack had delegated the murder to him and he had turned over the job to Crummie.

The second murder took place September 22 at a small Liberty City rooming house on a dingy street off Fifteenth Avenue, where Nathaniel Daley was staying. Daley's friend Cornelius Foster was nearing the house when he saw a white Lincoln Continental drive up. Foster later told police that Crummie got out carrying an automatic weapon and that Travis Thomas emerged from a back seat, also armed.

Crummie allegedly approached Foster and asked, "Where's Nate?" then strode to the front of the house and began spraying it with gunfire, while Thomas approached Foster, who had fallen to the ground and was trying to crawl away; he shot Foster five times in the back and legs (Foster survived), whereupon both shooters got back in the car and left. A few minutes later, prosecutors say, a Ford Mustang 5.0 drove past the house and more shots were fired into the building. Nathaniel Daley, who had come out of the building to see what was happening, is said to have spotted Rozier, Crummie, and another defendant, Terrence Reed, in the Mustang.

According to police, a hail of bullets pierced the front of the house, passing though interior walls and ending up in back rooms. Several of the bullets, however, hit 30-year-old Alfhea Barron, who was lying on her bed watching television. She died instantly.

Barron is thought not to have been acquainted with any of the alleged gunmen or the intended victim.

Defense attorneys have gone so far as to dispute the existence of a gang called the Boulder Boys. "It's been our position that there was no such thing as the Boulder Boys," says Reuben Camper Cahn, the chief assistant federal public defender who is representing Edward Mack. "That was created by the FBI so they could have a catchy name for their press conference."

At any rate, according to court records (including the federal indictment, pretrial testimony, police interviews, and lists of evidence collected during the investigation), the suspects weren't living the jet-setting highlife stereotypically associated with drug kingpins. All but one of the original defendants are young black men who ranged in age from 20 to 32 at the time of their arrests. (The exception was a 32-year-old Hispanic who lived in Miami Lakes and allegedly was the group's supplier.) The gang is said to have comprised about twenty members who controlled a portion of the drug trade in Liberty City. Most lived in middle- to low-income neighborhoods -- primarily Liberty City and Carol City -- some in apartments, others in modest single-family homes with their relatives. The last known address of 30-year-old reputed kingpin Mack is a small ranch house he was renting in a middle-class Carol City neighborhood south of Joe Robbie Stadium.

In terms of the trappings of luxury and wealth, law enforcement agents netted little: a total of about $100,000 in cash and a few cars, including a 1990 Lexus said to have belonged to Mack and two Ford Mustangs, a 1990 and a 1987. At trial, all six defendants are represented by court-appointed attorneys. (Though it does not involve a homicide, another current South Florida federal case provides a stark contrast to the alleged Boulder Boys operation: The U.S. government accuses Willy Falc centsn and Sal Magluta of running a $2.1 billion cocaine distribution network, the largest on the East Coast. The defendants owned fast cars, high-speed racing boats, aircraft, and extensive real estate, including apartment complexes and waterfront mansions in Dade and Broward.)

Defense lawyers and critics of the federal death penalty argue that the drug kingpin law is not being applied as originally advertised. "Al D'Amato and various other legislators pitched it as a means of rooting out and punishing the most violent of large-scale drug traffickers," asserts David Bruck, a Columbia, South Carolina, defense attorney who works with Kevin McNally on the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project and is perhaps the nation's leading defense authority on the kingpin law. But the statute, Bruck contends, has been used "against relatively small organizations, and within those organizations, against lower-level people. It would be easy to understand if these folks were [former Medellin cartel kingpin] Carlos Lehder, international traffickers who fly around in Learjets. But they're not. Murder is a blue-collar job. The higher up you go in an organization, the more deniability there is because real kingpins don't get their hands dirty with killing."

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