This article originally appeared on VICE Spain
"It's usually moist when I get it," Jon tells me. "That's the best part."
He puts a few lines on a worn-down CD case that's obviously had its fair share of speed chopped up on it.
"I stopped liking coke a while ago. People aren't after that kind of hit anymore, they're after something more exciting. Speed has become really popular again," he continues while filling a bunch of little blue and yellow bags with amphetamine.
"Each bag weights exactly one gram – no more, no less. That includes the bag's own weight. You have to weigh the stuff in the bag or else the scale will end up encrusted in powder residue."
Jon is a speed dealer who lives in a small village close to Bilbao. "Speed has always been popular here. I remember before I went to jail there was at least one guy per bar selling the stuff. I'm only ever at this one bar these days. People trust me because they know my speed is much better quality than the other shit people are selling. They don't even care that it's moist."
After packing his bags, he says that he will be going down to the bar he frequents and asks if I want to tag along. Curious as to how a run of the mill night looks for a man in his line of work, I decide to do just that.
When we reach the place, he doesn't even get a chance to sit down before the waiter hands him a beer. Almost instantly, a tall middle-aged man approaches him.
"This guy is the best. He used to buy from me but he has a family now. He isn't interested in buying gear anymore. Fuck it, I'll just give it to him," Jon says.
The man takes the little "insomnia bag" – as it's apparently called – saying: "There's a party tonight. When I decide to go out, I really go out." He then asks Jon whether or not it's moist. To which Jon replies: "Why the hell do you ask me that? You know exactly what I have."
He disappears into one of the toilets but isn't gone for long. When he strolls out, he goes straight up to the bar and starts shouting "Nobody can do it like this guy! Mate, give me some rolling paper; I need to dry this out. It's getting wetter and wetter every single time. If it wasn't for how badly you smell, I'd say you showered with it."
"Stop complaining. You know exactly what you get when you come to me," Jon snaps back.
In the next hour, seven people approach Jon looking to buy. One of them looks me up and down and asks who I am. Jon assures him that I'm fine – I'm not a "snitch" or whatever it is they're calling me.
The one thing that all these customers have in common is that they all follow the exact same ritual: They talk to Jon; go straight to the bathroom and return with one of their eyes watering. I guess, that's how you tell which nostril they've snorted it up from.
It doesn't take more than three hours before he's completely sold out. "I've spent three years in hiding because the cops caught me with one and a half kilo of speed. I've no doubt it was someone trying to fuck me over. A snitch, you know? These guys nowadays, they have no respect. They know they can make easy money so they don't give a shit about who's come before them. What they sell is shit."
When I ask him to tell me about his time in prison, his tone changes. "I don't want to talk about that, it was fucked up," he says while sipping his beer. "Ever since that trip, I have to walk around with eyes in the back of my head. If they catch me, I'm in a lot of trouble. It would be considered re-offending and that means a lot of jail time. I don't even want to think about it. That's why I only sell on a small scale. I never do it at night, either. That's when they catch you."
"Speaking of, it's almost 6PM. I better go home and get some more. There'll be more people coming soon."
We drive his rickety car over to his house on the outskirts of town. He opens the freezer and takes out a huge bag of speed. Apparently 200 grams is enough for an entire month.
He fills up about 20 little bags and spends his time weighing each one meticulously. "This one is 0.1g too much so I'll take a bit out. This is one is a bit heavy too but I'll leave it in so they'll think that I'm generous."
He gets a magnet out of his pocket and stuffs the bags into it, along with another magnet. Once we are outside, he sticks the bag to the inside of the car's back left wheel. "It wont fall out and if they stop us, we'll just say that it's not ours. They don't have any proof. They can't say anything to us."
Jon is vigilant. There's no music in the car and one eye seems fixated on the rearview mirror. We circle a couple of blocks more than once just to make sure no one is tailing us.
Unsurprisingly, he doesn't want to tell me where he buys his speed from; "I'll just tell you that I bring it in from the north of Guipúzcoa, from a small village with a lot of boats. But I'm not going to give you names or places. It'd be the end of me if I did — they are sick snitches. One day there's going to be big trouble," he tells me waving his finger accusingly.
Back at the bar, people come and go, greet each other and shake Jon's hand, money ready between their fingers. Jon always asks for a cigarette and leaves the "present" inside. It's quite obvious that the people who Jon sells to aren't drug addicts. Most of them actually appear quite respectable.
"It wouldn't be hard for me to make some serious money but I don't want to risk it. I get by just fine with the small amount that I sell each month. It's better to have one set of trustworthy clients rather than trying to expand the business and sell to all sorts strangers at some messy party. That doesn't interest me," he explains.
While we continue chatting about the quality of the gear that's sold these days, a well-dressed, grey-haired man comes up and asks to buy a few grams. The guy only has a 50 Euro note, so he buys us a round and a packet cigarettes and gives the 30 Euros change to Jon. When he heads to the toilet, Jon tells me that "that guy is a bastard".
"He's dressed like that to pretend he's reliable. He knows very well that no one plays games with me. If there's no money, then there's no stuff. That's just how it is."
Our grey haired friend quickly reappears after realising he has nothing to snort with. He turns to Jon and asks if he can borrow a note quickly.
"No fucking way with a capital N," Jon responds.
He disappears back into the bathroom again but is back in front of us immediately. Looking Jon in the eyes, he says: "Give me one of those rolling papers, mate. This shit is fucking moist."
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