By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
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By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
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Suburban Miami-Dade is not considered a hotbed of narcotic activity, but it's not Langley, Virginia either. Young entrepreneurs continually feed the demand for drugs in communities such as Kendall and Coral Gables, places where users can readily afford and always want the "good stuff." Guys like Razzmatazz secure themselves enough dough and free headstash to keep their finances straight and minds twisted. He long ago quit his "real" job -- working as a real estate office assistant -- though he occasionally takes temp gigs to explain the abundance of disposable income. He now nets between $3000 and $4000 a month from serving chronic. He hangs at home, dealing between classes, then spends a few hundred a week on new Kenneth Cole shoes or suede jackets along with what he blows in South Beach clubs or at Coconut Grove watering holes. But he realizes, "I gotta start saving."
Razz's income comes almost entirely from moving pot. He only sells "krypie," a potent, limey, seedless version of weed likened to bright-green kryptonite. "This is what killed Superman," Razz points out matter-of-factly. He has a stoner's sense of humor, reciting half-wit observations amusing mostly to himself. Taking advantage of his mother's long work hours, Razz sells from their home. He considers it much safer than meeting buyers on the street. He says cops are on the lookout for transactions between suspicious people at places like gas stations and shopping malls.
He sees up to ten people daily whenever he's stocked, which is most of the time (a week or two every couple of months is devoted to replenishing his stash and cooling off). On the days he's available, he moves between one and two ounces. That's $300 to $600 on an average day, $100 to $200 of that profit, and mostly selling $15 gerbers (grams) or $25 dollar half-eighters (half-eighth of an ounce). Lately, though, he's been kicking large amounts, like today's transaction, cutting back the profit margin but easing up on the hassles that come with nickel-and-diming his inventory. He says he could easily move twice as much, but believes "the more [indiscriminately] you sell, the more strange people you have calling you in the middle of the night or showing up at your door. And too many customers ask for a "spot," saying they'll owe me whenever they're short; before I know it, hundreds of dollars are on the street, a lot of which I won't get back." So Razz is more careful now: "I used to have anyone come over and buy; now, if I don't know you, you better come with someone I do, or we can't do business."
Friends and regulars only then, though today's deal involved friends of friends. He recounts the time when a buyer, a thirtysomething Cuban refugee with a teenage girlfriend, came for "a lot of pot." The man, who'd bought from Razz before, had someone knock on the front door in the middle of the deal. When Razz went to answer, no one was there. Back in his bedroom, the Cuban, his jailbait, and a pound and a half of smoke worth $6000 were gone. His sliding glass floor-to-ceiling window was open.
That didn't make him sweat nearly as much as the time someone broke in, trying for the whole stash. Razz came home to a busted door (there was no alarm), and found his closet empty, nothing taken but bud. His judgment was clearly clouded by frustration and a daily dope fix, because he foolishly decided to call the cops. A police officer arrived about the same time his mom did, and he concluded the burglars likely broke in to steal drugs. Only a lack of evidence prevented Razz from being charged, but now the police knew about him.
His mother wasn't surprised by the hypothesis -- what her son does for a living isn't the best-kept secret. Many of his visiting "pals" pass by for only minutes at a time. And the names of those who owe him money, the ones he remembers anyway, go up on a Fisher-Price chalkboard in his room, along with how much they owe and for how many grams: Chacho, $50 -- 3.5 grams; Narciso -- $100 -- 7 grams. Not to mention undisguised smoking sessions even when she's home and bitching. While she chastises his "job," no one, not even Razz, remembers her ever telling him to stop. She knows a thing or two about pot dealers: Her husband (Razz's father) -- we'll call him Julio -- is in federal prison in Butner, North Carolina doing a long bit; he was busted driving more than $150,000 worth of Happy Relaxin' Puffin' Stuff cross-country in a Winnebago, à la ex-Dallas Cowboy Nate Newton. The pot, evidently, never falls too far from the plant.
In the name of the father
Razz emulates his father, an eccentric man who played guitar in an acid-rock band in the Seventies; had a room full of stuffed endangered animals, including a spotted owl, a grizzly bear, and a Florida panther; and handed Razz a surprise on his seventeenth birthday: a quarter-pound of grass for him and his friends to float out on. Razz says his father, who's been at Butner for five years, blames himself for what his son does, but won't come down on him. No one in his family will. Razz is the man of the house now; he says that fact dawned on him when he had to sell off his dad's animal collection to black-market buyers arranged by "friends" of the family. The huge house they were living in, two stories on an acre and a half in East Kendall, was leased out to a couple for "financial necessity" after Julio went down hard. (Ironically the couple who leased it used part of the space to grow weed, something the family found out when cops -- needling them about it -- told them about the eventual bust.) Fortunately family finances have stabilized. Razz's new home is a more modest but polished three-bedroom house. His mother runs a thriving travel agency now, as opposed to the failed attempts at legitimate work she and her husband had tried before. But Razz will drop a grand on her night table every now and again, no questions asked. She doesn't like to speak about any of this, in fact she wishes none of it was being written down, but she does share one thought: "What my son does with his life, I have no control over. Kids today can do what they want, they know what's right and wrong." The truth is, Razz's occupation doesn't bother her too much -- unless it invades her house.