Gil-Scott Heron, Griselda Blanco, and John Belushi: Great Articles About Cocaine

Longform.org's guide to the greatest long articles ever written.
June 1 2013 7:15 AM

The Longform Guide to Cocaine

Stories about blow that don’t suck.

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“When I first began visiting Scott-Heron, he would leave the room at intervals and go into his bathroom. The next time I went to his apartment, he went into his kitchen and a stream of smoke drifted out. One day, I turned around, and he had his crack pipe to his lips, and after that he didn’t bother to leave the room anymore. Sometimes he would fall asleep in the middle of an interview, and I would excuse myself.”

The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine
Brendan Kiley • Stranger • Aug 2010

How the bulk of the cocaine entering the U.S. ends up cut with a cattle dewormer.

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“So what's the incentive to use a relatively expensive cut of something that makes your customers sick and increases your smuggling risk? Even stranger: The cocaine trade, in both smuggling and production, has fragmented in recent years (more on that in a minute). If there's no central production, how did hundreds and hundreds of independent shops come to use the same unusual cutting agent?

“Nobody seems to know, including experts I spoke with on both coasts of the United States: doctors, scholars, chemists, think-tank fellows, research scientists, federal and state public-health analysts, law enforcement agencies from the Seattle Police Department to the DEA, and even people who work in and around the drug trade. Everyone has theories, but nobody has answers.

“It's a mystery.”

Searching for the Godmother of Crime
Ethan Brown • Maxim • July 2008

A profile of Griselda Blanco, aka the “Black Widow,” who pioneered the cocaine trade in New York and Miami.

“Standing barely five feet tall and weighing 165 pounds, with a wide, oval face and cleft chin, Blanco was no drug lord’s fantasy chica, even if her growing reputation with street dealers and law enforcement had earned her the nickname “the Godmother.” She’d returned to Colombia because she was unsatisfied with her relationship with Bravo, and his stewardship of their vast enterprise. Millions in profits had gone missing, and Blanco blamed her husband. So when she and her enforcers pulled into the parking lot of a nightclub outside Bogotá, she tucked a pistol into her ostrich-skin boot. After all, this was Colombia, where cocaine, and the mountains of money that came with it, was stronger than any loyalty, a fact proved by the fresh corpses dumped outside rivals’ doorsteps every morning. Stepping out of her limo, Blanco strode toward Bravo, who was waiting impatiently for her across the lot, backed by his own team of glowering goons. Sensing his wife’s rage, Bravo lashed out, accusing her of allowing the “Godmother” talk to go to her head. According to lore, a furious Blanco drew out her pistol and fired several shots point-blank at her husband. He responded by pulling an Uzi out of his waistband. In the melee, six bodyguards were killed. Blanco was struck in the stomach but would ultimately recovered from her wounds. Her husband, shot in the face, was not so lucky.”

Soul Men
Nez Zeman • Vanity Fair • Jan 2013