Kelly is from Ohio and has been selling cocaine, MDMA and cannabis since he was a teenager. This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Hey, you around?
I'm always around, available for business. Money never sleeps. If you got the fucking paper, I'm going to answer your phone call. It's like that.
What do you sell and where?
I sell coke, THC, and ecstasy. I ply my trade in Columbus, Ohio.
What kind of people are your customers?
It ranges from younger working professional type of folks to middle aged people with kids to young hipsters to hippies. I serve the Jewish community and soccer moms out in the suburbs. I even deal with some brothers from the hood and vatos from the barrio. It's a pretty diverse clientele, the full spectrum. But I would probably say 90 percent of my customers are men.
How has business been with the pandemic?
The first three weeks were some of the busiest I've ever been. Everybody wanted to get stocked up and supplied, to make sure that they weren't going to go without. There's people now calling me that aren't even regular users. I'm talking about friends from the past, or a buddy's neighbor, ‘Hey man, can you get us some coke or ecstasy?’ Because people are starting to get cabin fever. So they're looking for any kind of an escape or release.
Are people still taking stimulants, even on lockdown?
Some people would say it's frivolous, some people would say it's a luxury item to be able to indulge in. But in essence it's because people need to escape the doldrum of being quarantined or to have a little escape from the depression and the isolation. I get calls like, "Man, I'm cooped up. I've had enough, I've been drinking enough, I've been smoking enough, now I want to take a couple snorts to loosen up man. Kind of put myself out of this fucking trap that I've been in."
Basically they're looking to change their brain chemistry, alter their consciousness. Significant other, kids, driving them fucking crazy. Lost job, or wages, or whatever, streams of income compromised, they need an escape. And that's what I'm providing. It's like taking a little vacation, and you don't even have to leave the bedroom and the apartment.
Are customers taking stimulants together, alone, are they having house parties?
Some of my customers are self-isolating, either by themselves or with their family. Some customers are still partying. I haven’t been to any, but there are parties out there. Been invited to a few. Coke parties, ecstasy parties, some people don’t really give a fuck.
How do you get the baggies to people under lockdown?
I do a little bit of delivery. Very few people come to my trap spot. I meet a lot of people on the street at once. When I schedule a meet-up, I usually schedule it in a certain area of the city. And then I have anywhere from four to seven people lined up within an hour and a half, and then boom, boom, boom. Just one after another. I'll have their order pre-packaged and put together. This way it’s quick and we don’t get noticed.
Are you more wary of the police now when handing over drugs, is it harder?
In the city, it's not like you notice it more necessarily, but there's less traffic out there. The cops seem more prevalent. A couple of weeks ago, I was definitely super leery and paranoid about them looking for people, setting speed traps, pulling over people, whether it's on foot or in a car. And they were giving verbal warnings or a warning ticket to some people. I was a little concerned with it because if you don't have your things packaged up right it could open up a whole whole new can of worms. There's definitely some concern with traveling, but that’s always been a thing with drugs.
How do you get drugs off your suppliers under lockdown? Is that harder?
It might take a little bit longer to get into the city, but once it’s here it’s the same routine. It’s not like we are living in a gestapo state. You can still move. There’s just less people moving. Basically you just have to be on point and not let your guard down. Because with less people out the odds of you getting pulled over are higher. And you don’t want to get pulled over right after you see your connect. I just drive right to my connect’s house and get the product. He did have me waiting like a week recently to re-up.
Are you worried about getting infected with coronavirus?
I was very cavalier the first couple of weeks about this whole thing. Some of my customers would be wearing masks and gloves. And I'm not going to lie, I was kind of clowning. I was laughing. I was like, "You guys are all paranoid and shit." But obviously, as this developed, everybody's doing it, and it's for everyone's safety, right? I know multiple delivery drivers and people that have been infected, bro. So it's definitely a concern now. Nobody wants to die.
What precautions do you take?
I'm not wearing a mask, I'm not wearing gloves. Immediately when I come in from outside, I use hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol. The only time I get super paranoid is when I count money. After I count a bunch of stacks, I run right to the sink and pour rubbing alcohol or sanitizer on my hands and arms every time. But that's something I've been doing for at least 10 years. I always wash my hands after counting big stacks of money.
How is your supply?
Prices are slightly up. I'd say they're up 10 to 20 percent. That's for real. On everything. Everyone’s saying drugs are getting harder to come by, but fucking everybody wants it and it's more expensive. I'm trying to keep prices the same. I'm pretty fucking fair, and that's why I have a real loyal customer base. But on the other side of that, you just got to fucking bump it up. And that's just how it goes, man.
How has the pandemic changed your neighborhood?
I think there's a whole more desperate feel on the street because of the virus. The homeless people aren't getting food hand-outs and dollars from the people walking out of stores and restaurants, because the restaurants and stores aren't open. So that person that usually walks out and drops a buck or two, or a handful of change coming out of Nordstrom’s into the bum's hand is not there. These guys are getting desperate.
Are you taking more drugs yourself over lockdown?
I party on the regular. Doing it more just with my girl now. Not going out except for business. Wouldn’t say I’m doing more drugs, just doing them at home instead of out on the town. Before it was restaurants and concerts and nightclubs and parties. Now it’s just me and my girl watching Netflix, playing with the cats, getting into something at the house.
Do you plan on ever getting out the game?
I mean, I don't know. It'd be nice to have enough to retire. But I like to fucking hustle, man. I'd like to make a gazillion dollars and say, retire and live on some fucking beach and be cool. But I kind of like fucking keeping busy man. I like the grind. I like the hustle. It speaks to who I am.
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