The labeling of a snitch is a scar for life /
You will still be in prison, n—, just minus the bars …
– Jay Z, “A week ago“(1998)
In the cult classic of 2002 Fully paid, rapper Cam’ron – who played drug dealer Rico – delivered the film most legendary line, proclaiming, “N-like getting shot every day, B.” The character was inspired by the famous Harlem drug lord Alberto “Alpo” Martinez. Just hours after midnight on Halloween, it was Alpo who found himself on the wrong side of a bullet.
According to local reports, Martinez, 55, was struck five times while driving a 2017 Dodge Ram near West 147th Street. Doctors were unable to resuscitate him and he was pronounced dead shortly after in Harlem hospital. No suspects have been arrested, but it won’t surprise anyone to learn that Martinez’s death was a byproduct of the life he lived and most importantly of his decision to strike a deal with prosecutors nearly 30 years ago. earlier.
In the history of drugs in America, Martinez is one of his most notorious uplifting tales. Its legacy lives on in the world of hip-hop, the genre that was still in its infancy in its heyday. Over the years, the name Alpo has woven into the songs of artists such as 50 cents, Jay Z, Nas, Meek Mill, Timid and Future. His legacy in rap, as well as in the streets, has always been a source of division.
“For me, it’s even beyond the snitch factor of this story. There is something to say about the murder of your brother. Pusha T said, explaining his How did you celebrate the Alpo? lyrics from the 2015 track, “FIFA” “It was just a bunch of violations which, for me, are a bit too much to applaud about someone coming home from jail. Someone who has publicly raped at so many levels.
Wars are remembered for the carnage they bring and the legacy they leave, but no war begins with the first shot. A decade before Martinez’s reign began, New York City faced a financial crisis that nearly crippled it, resulting in then-President Gerald Ford publicly detonate Gotham for asking the federal government for help. Ford eventually changed his mind, but the budget cuts had a dramatic impact, especially in the city’s lower-income neighborhoods. As a result, options became scarce, and a generation of young black men enlisted in something more dangerous than the military: the streets.
In New York City in the 1980s, it wasn’t athletes or rappers who sat at the top of the black community’s social hierarchy. This distinction belonged to drug traffickers. They had money, power and respect. They were, in many ways, the makers of fashion tastes and lived the lives that many rappers talked about in their music.
Former pivots such as Nicky Barnes and Frank Lucas were in prison serving long sentences. The advent of crack made the game far more lawless than it had ever been before, leading to a new cast of street legends controlling the drug trade. Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff and Gerald “Prince” Miller of the Supreme Team, founded near Baisley Park Houses, ruled Queens. The names of Howard “Pappy” Mason and Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols was scary at the mere mention.
Meanwhile, Martinez, Azie “AZ” Faison Jr. and Rich Porter were the best dogs in Harlem. Martinez was flashy and flaunted his riches. He was making money not only in New York, but also out of town in cities like Washington. But then came the act of betrayal that would mark the rest of his life.
The only thing perhaps more important than money on the streets is loyalty. On January 3, 1990, Martinez and his right-hand man Garrett “Bighead Gary”Terrell would have killed Porter. (None have ever been convicted of the murder.) Martinez believed Porter was lying about a connection he used to purchase the product. All the money they made together suddenly didn’t matter. Porter’s murder was always going to be major news that upsets the balance of power. But her murder at the hands of a man many considered a brother ran deep.
“I was meeting Rich that night, he got in a van. Once he got into the van, I locked the doors. As I walked away, I asked him, “Yo, Rich, where did you get that coke?” It was good, because I wanted to put him at ease ”, Martinez once told. ” I was very angry. I just killed a_one that I loved. A na I called my brother.
The exact number of bodies Martinez stacked in his lifetime may never be known. But nearly two years after the blow to Porter, Martinez’s world came to a screeching halt. History recalls November 7, 1991, the day Magic Johnson announced his retirement from the NBA after being diagnosed with HIV. That same day, Martinez, 25, has been arrested in Southeast Washington, ending a year-long FBI manhunt for one of America’s most powerful drug traffickers.
A day later, Martinez was sitting in a courtroom to hear the list of charges bearing his name. Authorities also wanted information on the murders of high-profile Washington drug dealer Michael Anthony Salters, aka “Fray,” and of Timothy Cohen and Mark Mullen – the latter two were killed in broad daylight at a car wash in Oxon Hill. , in Maryland.
Martinez didn’t say much in the courtroom that day. He sniffled loudly and his eyes filled with tears, the Washington post reported at the time. He was looking at 14 counts of murder – including the deaths of Porter and his 12-year-old brother William – and the real possibility of being sentenced to death.
Few people who get into the drug game are given a safe exit strategy. Death or prison are often the only way out. Martinez was desperate for any sort of victory. He cooperated with the authorities and, because of this violation of the street code, many of the people he made money with on the streets were now wards of the state. One figure in particular was Wayne perry, a man described by Legends of Lorton author Eyone Williams as “the most infamous hitman to ever walk the streets of the nation’s capital”. Perry was ultimately sentenced to five consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. In return for his testimony, Martinez was sentenced to 35 years and was eventually released into the witness protection program in 2015. (Identification found at the crime scene indicated this as Abraham Rodriguez, a resident of Lewiston, Maine.)
After the events of this weekend, one has to wonder: why would Martinez be so comfortable walking around his old playground given the sins of his past? Truth be told, Martinez was visible in Harlem even before the shooting that claimed his life. Clips have emerged online in recent years of Martinez on the streets he once ruled. The ego has blinded men since the dawn of time. It’s pretty much the only elixir that explains why one of the most legendary and maligned street con artists would leave a nightclub in Harlem in the wee hours of the morning. Martinez wanted to be seen because Martinez always thrived on that kind of recognition.
Martinez’s murder seemed almost predestined. It’s impossible to tell the story of Harlem or the War on Drugs without mentioning the carnage that Martinez played a significant role in orchestrating. The film Fully paid ends with Rico, the character inspired by Martinez, saying he would cooperate and give the names of drug dealers in Washington, but he refused to report anyone in Harlem. In his words, this was where he would always be the king.
Yet, as history has shown, nothing has ever stopped a king from being beheaded.