The nightclub ecstasy dealer is becoming an endangered species. The average pill-taker tends to buy drugs from friends or acquaintances rather than a dodgy-looking guy who won't make quite enough eye contact in a club. The low cost of Es also means that organised criminal networks mostly stick to supplying pills to dealers and doing home and street deliveries. The nightclub circuit just isn't worth the risk anymore.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was a different story. In addition to selling at clubs in their own backyards, crews from major cities would travel to venues in smaller towns to capitalise on the spread of rave culture. Drum'n'bass MC Carl Thomas AKA MC Flux was a member of a network from Croydon who flooded Brighton with Es.
His group contained an unlikely mix of black guys and extreme right-wingers, which eventually made the police mistakenly label his drum'n'bass collective Inta Natty as an organised crime group with links to neo-Nazis Combat 18. I got in touch with Carl to find out the inside workings of a nightclub ecstasy network, the darker side of the early d'n'b scene, and how a black dude ended up rubbing shoulders with neo-Nazis.
VICE: So how did you first start selling ecstasy?
MC Flux: It was one of our younger lot, a white kid, who first jumped on the bandwagon. Some people who attended the raves would see five black geezers and think "these lot look the type to get pills from". This meant we could wait until people approached us, then point them in the direction of the white kid. Within a few months, he was cleaning up.
Why did you travel to Brighton rather than just doing your thing in London?
In 1989, when Maggie Thatcher was clamping down on acid house and the outdoor events, we started going down to Brighton to dance and drop a pill. A lad I knew from football saw the potential for our young lot to serve up [sell drugs] with the rest of us behind them for if it came on top [if it kicked off]. We also found out that we could get pills in the thousands from a friend, and had a monstrous amount off him, with the lad from football providing the investment. We got our supply for £6.50 each, and sold them for £20 a pill.
Did you come up against much resistance from the local Brighton dealers?
We had resistance from the football firm, because they knew we were Palace [Carl was a prominent member of Crystal Palace's 'Dirty 30' football hooligan gang]. It was nothing compared to the dog-eat-dog scene in London at the time, though.
Inta Natty, the drum 'n' bass collective that you were part of, was labelled by the police as an international crime syndicate with links to kidnapping, money laundering, and neo-Nazi group Combat 18. What was the deal?
That came from a British Transport Police detective. Someone had told a certain individual that I was coming for him over a debt, so he dreamed up a story about a football hooligan drug supplier being on his case to try and save his bacon. I was actually in prison at the time! The BTP then investigated everyone around me. The Combat 18 thing was related to the guy I knew from football. He had controversial views, but was very honest, so I liked him.
When you say "controversial", do you mean racist?
Today, people would be like, 'Yeah, it's racist', but if you're white and I'm black and you really want to wind me up, you're going to say, 'You black cunt.' That's not cos you're racist – if I had one leg, you'd have called me a one-legged cunt. In this day and age, they'll say, 'You made a racist comment. You're racist', but that's not how I see it.
Anyway, he introduced me to someone who was high up in Combat 18. I was in a crew of black guys, hung around with a crew of white guys, was in a football firm and knew extreme right-wing people, which the police couldn't get their heads around. They thought all the crews I was involved with were part of one big network.
I've heard a fair few football firms back then contained a mix of black guys and extreme right-wingers.
That's true. If you're an acceptable geezer and can hold up your hands, people in the firm will see it, and it won't matter what colour you are.
You ended up doing a prison sentence for intent to supply. What happened there?
That was in 1995, a lot later. I was caught by the security at a rave. I wasn't in a good mindset due to cocaine abuse, and foolishly held up a bag containing wraps of gear and pills in full view of everyone. In court, they said I was serving up, which wasn't entirely true. Someone I knew asked me for some of my gear, and I obliged.
You're now a reformed character, and are involved in anti-drug and anti-crime workshops. Why the change?
I started seeing news stories about the consequences of ecstasy. Also, as prices went down, the quality was lost, and taking pills became Russian roulette. I'm in my late 40s, so justifying or condemning young people's choice of recreational stimulant would be hypocritical, but you have to educate them about the risks.
While in Channings Wood prison, I met an officer called William Barret, who really helped me as well. He said, 'You're not like these other cats I see coming in and out of prison. You've got a lot to offer. Work on yourself'. I took his advice, did a lot of courses, and made a decision to change.
Nowadays, I'm employed by Lewisham Council, and do some work in Liverpool, the Wirral, and Knowsley, trying to steer young people away from crime. I also work with an organisation called CELLS, which delivers anti-gang workshops. Kids will listen to someone who has been there and done it. I'm enjoying doing something positive. I'm lucky to still be alive and surrounded by people I love who have supported me through thick and thin. I hope by doing the work I do now, I can give something back.
Thanks for talking to me, MC Flux.
You can read more about MC Flux's exploits in his autobiography Dirty.
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