On the latest edition of the Philly Blunt, we did a remarkable interview with Larry Lavin. In the mid 1970s, Lavin started dealing pot to his frat brothers. By 1981 he was the biggest coke dealer on the East Coast. I first came across his story 15-20 years ago, when I bought a random book at a used book store called Dr. Snow. I was riveted by this incredible true story, and when we started doing the podcast, I thought I’d take a random stab at doing an interview with him. I reached out to him, and incredibly he got back to me and said he’d be happy too, and he’d be willing to tell all. The end result was a remarkable interview. Here are a few highlights. Be sure to listen to the full thing on our site or on itunes. In this part of the interview, we talk about making the transition from selling pot to college campuses to selling coke.
JGT: How does that expand? Where suddenly you’ve got a guy talking to Cubans in Miami. Like, that’s a whole different ballgame than talking to college kids in Blacksburg.
LARRY: Right. Well everyone kind of has a connection somehow. And I was pretty, I’m a pretty easily friended person. I make contacts really well. And one of my friends that lived out on the Main Line, he was a little bit older, and he had a Cuban girlfriend, fiance I believe, and he had a couple of connections. And he was the one who told me we could do this. So we pooled our money and bought like a half key. Like the smallest buy, I’m surprised they even sold it to us.
GREG: What did that cost back then?
LARRY: Believe it or not, keys used to be $55,000. The price tumbles down over the years to like $14,000. But for the longest time, we would buy keys at like $55,000 and by the time we broke it up, and put whatever cut depending on which product people wanted, it sold for about $75,000.
GREG: What would you cut it with?
LARRY: Inositol. You know it’s a Vitamin B product. And, uh, lidocaine. But how you develop it is the fact that we had something all the time. So once a week you would come and pay what you could, and we’d give you more, so your business would grow. By me fronting all this. So if you came and wanted half pound, a pound, I’d say “Johnny, what the heck, why don’t you take two pounds this time, and see what happens.” And that’s what made these things grow. And unfortunately everyone’s debt to me grew, because a lot of times people wouldn’t pay them, they did too much product, whatever happened.
REEF: What would you do like the big debt was owed? You would just let it go?
LARRY: Yeah. What good does it do you to get in trouble by going after someone? You try to work with someone, decide if it’s worthwhile, if it’s not-
REEF: Then they lose the connect to you if they don’t pay.
LARRY: That’s exactly right. No one wants to do that because they’ve got, you know, the Golden Ticket.
Wanna hear more about Larry’s days as a cocaine kingpin, how the FBI caught him, and what life was like once he went on the lam? Be sure to listen to this absolutely incredible interview. And be sure to join us on Facebook, twitter, and instagram.