Street Stories

HuSTLe City: St. Louis Kingpins and Old School Gangs

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HuSTLe City

St Louis Drug Kingpins and Old School Gangs

The gateway city has had a long history with activity in the streets, which included St Louis drug kingpins, violence, and local corruption. What some may not realize, at least outside of the city, that history dates back to the 1970s, the era of the St Louis housing projects, drug wars and kingpins, like R. Scott or N. Sledge, mainly through heroin.

A notorious public housing high rise complex that was centered along Cass Avenue, known as Pruitt Igoe was also the center of St Louis’ heroin trade during the 1970s. This complex became one of the country’s most notorious neighborhoods as the housing project was infamous for neglect, poverty and crime until its demolishing during the late 1970s.

While Pruitt Igoe was the most known, the entire Cass Avenue area, which was filled with low income housing complexes like the George Vaughn, Blumeyer, and Cochran, was the heart of the streets, as well blocks around Delmar Boulevard, like an area known as the Stroll (formerly around Sarah and Olive).

Top 4 St Louis Drug Kingpins

1. J. Lewis Bey. Leader of the Moorish Science Temple, authorities claim that he was alleged to control the vast majority of drugs being sold in St. Louis, at least for over a decade. Some may say a government conspiracy took him down, but everyone familiar with the Lewis Bey name gives their respect for the control he had in the streets.

2. Petty Boys/Brothers. The Petty Brothers street activity dates back to the 1960s, but their rise was through the 1970s in the JVL area, off Cass Avenue. The Petty Brothers were often feared and were major in the streets of St. Louis during the 1970s.

3. D. Haymon. A rival of the Petty Brothers was also well respected and ran an organization highly profitable during the 1970s as he was known to frequent the Carr Square and Vaughn housing project area before turning his life around after serving 25 years.

4. Fat Woods. Maybe the king of one of the country’s most infamous neighborhoods, Pruitt Igoe, at least before its demolishing during the late 1970s, ran with the likes of Killer Earl and made thousands daily.

Old School Gangs

Following the 70s, the days of the Kingpin controlling the streets was somewhat over as the rise of St Louis gangs began to take over the streets and the local drug trade. Many of the gangs eventually adopted the Blood and Crip moniker, which was followed by adopting specific Los Angeles sets, like Rollin 60s Crips, Inglewood Family Gangster Bloods, or 62 East Coast Crips, in which was originally established through drug connections.

Before the Bloods and Crips, there were just local neighborhood based gangs which included the likes of the Thundercats of Laclede Town, a former housing project around Compton Avenue in Downtown St. Louis, the Boys of Destruction around Goodfellow and Page, VTO (Vaughn Takin Over) of the former George Vaughn housing project, JVL Posse, the Horseshoe Posse, Peabody Posse, WestSide Rockers, and a couple dozen others.

In all there were probably over a couple of dozen gangs in St Louis during the 1980s. The 80s were the golden years for local neighborhood gangs, as the 90s was the golden years Blood and Crip sets, which begun during the early 90s as some local gangs faded away and others became either Bloods or Crips.

By the 2000s, Blood and Crip activity ceased as everything was individual mayhem, with the living standards of everyone for themselves, and/or neighborhood based chaos, meaning my block or my section against the cross the street rivals. For a brief period the Blood and Crip moniker came back during the 2010s, but the days of the 1990s will never be relived, and the same goes for the kingpin reign of the 1970s as the streets have evolved into everyone being for self.

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