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September 19, 1996 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-19

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The Michigan Daily -- Thursday, September 19, 1996 --- 9A

NATION/WORLD-

4 ~

'Baltimore drug dealers use ground meat i*n trafficking

-the Baltimore Sun.
BALTIMORE - A raw scene: On a dark
~summer night in Curtis Bay, a 1994 Nissan pick-
~up truck with a large cooler in back moves slow-
ly down Pennington Avenue and turns left onto
. Cypress Street. 'A line of a half a dozen drug
users -- women and men -- forms.
+ One by one, they deposit their packages in the

cooler. A man in the front seat hands out the
drugs. The deal is done.
But no money has changed hands. What
gives? Where's the beef?
In the cooler, of course.
All-American ground beef, steak and other
meat products have a new use in some parts of
Baltimore: currency in the drug trade.

Drug users say they typically shoplift the meat
from area supermarkets, then give it to low-level
dealers in exchange for drugs. The fact that meat
goes bad quickly does not seem to be a deter-
rent. Police say the growing use of the perishable
item is another sign of the speed of the drug
trade and its reach into all manner of businesses.
"Meat is more expensive than most groceries,

and so you can move it pretty quickly if you're a
user," says Southern District Lt. Barry Baker.
"~Meat is becoming another kind of cash:'
Law enforcement officials offer no statistics
on how much meat is grinding through the drug
trade.
But users, community activists and grocers
have noticed the trend, particularly in south and

southwest Baltimore. In Curtis Bay, Rylow
Williams, a sheet metal worker, has even cap-
tured the pickup truck's visit and other meat-for-
drugs swaps on videotape.
"It's a substitute for money, and a good deal
for the dealers'" Williams says. "I have gotten to
know a lot of dealers who will take $50 worth of
steak, and give you a $10 rock.'

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