This Might Be the Ultimate “Wrong Place, Wrong Time” Story

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Sept. 19 2013 2:49 PM

Honk if You're Bagging Heroin With Intent to Distribute!

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Name: Brian Morris

Alleged crimes: Intent to distribute heroin and cocaine; intent to distribute in a school zone; possession of a stolen firearm; possession of a gun while having certain drugs.


Fatal mistake: Forgetting that the most successful drug kingpins are seen and not heard, and generally not seen, either.

The circumstances: Wasting time in parked cars is a grand American pastime. Necking with a lovely stranger out at Danger Point, eating greasy burgers at the local drive-in, passing a ditchweed joint in your friend’s parents’ driveway: If you haven’t done something dumb in a parked car at least once in your life, you’re probably not an American. By that logic, a Virginia man named Brian Morris might just be the greatest patriot in American history. (Thanks to the alert reader who sent this story my way.)

Last Friday, Morris allegedly decided to start his weekend by sitting in his car, bagging up some drugs for distribution, and honking his horn all the while. (It's not entirely clear why Morris was honking his horn. Maybe he was trying to attract customers?) Unfortunately for Morris, he was parked next to the anti-drug Neighborhood Resource Center, which was hosting a community event attended by police and other solid citizens who gradually became more and more annoyed about the loud and obnoxious honking coming from outside. When a cop went to investigate, he allegedly saw the oblivious Morris sitting in the driver’s seat, with crack cocaine in his lap and a digital scale at his side.

“At first I thought ‘this can't be what I’m seeing,’ ” the officer told Richmond’s WWBT-TV. “You know, I'm looking down, I just want to talk to him about the noise coming from his car.” A second look revealed the situation to be even dumber than it initially seemed. Not only did Morris allegedly have crack cocaine, heroin, measuring and distribution equipment, and a stolen handgun with an extended magazine, he also had a small television on which he was loudly watching a show about drug dealers. The WWBT story doesn't say which show Morris was watching, though presumably it wasn’t of the “how-to” variety. Morris was arrested.

How he could’ve been a lot smarter: A smart drug dealer measures and packages his drugs at home, far away from prying eyes, tow trucks, vapor lock, and other hazards of the open road.

How he could’ve been a little smarter: Well, if you’ve got to bag your drugs in your car, then at least be discreet about it. Turn off the ignition, stay away from the horn, and cover your windshield with one of those sunglass-themed windshield shades. That way everyone will think that the car is empty, and also that it’s owned by a really cool cat.

How he could’ve been a little dumber: If he would’ve had one of those novelty musical car horns that play a few notes from a song. I don’t know, something like Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law,” or the Dave Clark Five’s “Catch Us if You Can.” Or something more recent but just as on-the-nose.

How he could’ve been a lot dumber: Repeatedly honking your car horn is a dumb and obnoxious thing to do. Yelling “Come get your drugs!” over a bullhorn would have been worse. 

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): I guess you could argue that Morris couldn’t have been expected to know that there were cops in the building outside of which he was parked. On the other hand, if you are a drug dealer, you should probably assume that there are always cops everywhere and thus take extreme caution to avoid attracting their attention through unnecessary honking. Morris’ failure to do this earns him a high score on the UDR scale. 7 out of 10 for him.

Previous Dumb Criminals

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at



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