Promethazine with codeine syrup is typically mixed with Sprite to make lean, AKA purple drank, which is often sipped from a double-stacked Styrofoam cup, AKA a double cup.
Promethazine with codeine syrup is typically mixed with Sprite to make lean, AKA purple drank, which is often sipped from a double-stacked Styrofoam cup, AKA a double cup.
Photos by Kristin Bjørnsen

Rapper in Ring Accused of Selling Purple Drank to Lil Wayne Says Cops "Do Not Have a Case"

Authorities say aspiring local rapper Darrish Bernard Martin, AKA Young Bernie, was part of a crime ring that broke into dozens of pharmacies across South Florida and made off with bottles of prescription-strength cough syrup that were then sold to Lil Wayne and other "purple drank" aficionados.  

In a letter sent to New Times from jail, the 26-year-old musician admits he drank tons of the woozy concoction, which is made from cough syrup mixed with Sprite and typically sipped from a double-stacked Styrofoam cup. But he swears he never sold it.

"Purple drank, I love it a lot, I actually drank four bottles a day," Martin writes of the mixture glorified in hip-hop music. "It makes me feel better than ever. Never did I [sell] bottles, my use only. And four bottles still was not enough."

New Times detailed South Florida's biggest cough syrup bust in a July cover story. But the letter from Martin, who uploaded music videos to YouTube and performed at local venues before his May 2016 arrest, represents the first time he's spoken out about the allegations. Still awaiting trial, he faces felony charges including racketeering, grand theft of a controlled substance, and burglary.

Police say they connected Martin to the burglaries by following tracking devices they had placed on cough syrup bottles to a Buick Regal he was driving. They noted that his social media account showed photos of him with bottles of syrup bearing the same serial numbers as the ones stolen from a Walgreens in Pembroke Pines. Members of the group who are cooperating with law enforcement confirmed Martin's involvement.

But Martin claims that anyone who was caught could be freed by saying his name.

"It's false stories," he writes. "Not one [pharmacy] video can point me out, or any DNA, [or] fingerprint. They really do not have a case." 

Throughout the letter, Martin refers to the power of purple drank, which has become a hip-hop status symbol. Also called "lean" or "sizzurp," it came into prominence in the '90s and often makes appearances in lyrics, including in songs by Justin Bieber, Future and DJ Khaled.

Through local music producer Harrison Garcia, AKA "Cuban Harry," Martin's group is alleged to have sold cough syrup to both Lil Wayne and Chris Brown.

"Perhaps some people say I had a million-dollar drug," Martin writes. "You can put it up with coke and the drank will win. I was buying it all over (and) never cared about the money."

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