Chapter 34

Think of a snitch. It’s usually some petty drug dealer giving up his boss to avoid prosecution. Movies, even common sense, would have you believe that’s how it’s done. Not in this story.

This story is from the top down. That’s how corrupt the cops were in my hometown. Not even corrupt. Corrupt would insinuate there’s some sort of financial gain involved. These cops weren’t that savvy. They destroyed children’s lives for headlines, for ego gratification.

And why? Maybe they were bored. Not much happens in St. Clairsville. Maybe they were just as unconscious as us. We were children. What was their excuse?

Klouds, a friend of mine — a friend of ours, was arguably the most prolific dealer at the time. Most of the weed came from him. Like so many others in this story, he was in too deep. And like I said, this story is from the top down.

Money and respect. We do strange things for it. The town Klouds was from was so small, it made St. Clairsville look like New York. It’s hard to get away with stuff in a place like that. Even harder to orchestrate a robbery. That didn’t stop him from trying.

Drugs aren’t inherently violent. It’s the illegal business surrounding them that breeds violence. The draconian drug war has created more problems than it’s solved. In some countries drug use is a mental health issue–not criminal. But because these substances are illegal here, robberies are frequent. Why wouldn’t they be, when you can’t report stolen drugs to police? This was Klouds logic, and while it may have seemed sound, it was flawed.

He organized the robbery of a large amount of weed. The problem was who he got to do it; two stick up kids with a calling card. Every time they robbed someone, they left their trademark insignia. Think Home Alone when the Wet Bandits left water running. And just like Marv and Harry, it would lead to their destruction.

These assailants, hired by Klouds, for some reason, liked to burn the asses of their victims with hot spoons. Don’t ask me why. This in the eyes of Ohio Law constitutes sexual assault. The victims, fearing for their safety, didn’t want to press charges. But given the nature of the crime, the State Department took it on anyway.

This would be the beginning of the end for the St. Clairsville drug empire.

It wasn’t long before they found out Klouds was responsible. After a short investigation he was apprehended. When he was caught, they found a pound of weed and a gun.

With so many charges against him, he felt he had no choice but to snitch. The cops were elated when Klouds agreed work undercover. There was one problem.

He knew better than to give up any heavy hitters. Instead of giving up his suppliers, he planned to rat out the people he was selling to. The police  never should’ve made that deal. They were letting violent criminals stay free. They would instead be indicting juveniles who were selling dime bags to their friends.

Klouds wore a wire. Some of the kids he incriminated were forced to then wear wires themselves.

This went on behind the scenes for months. So not only were we smoking and selling, we were being watched and listened to by police.

Months later and I was in study hall with George Craig and Janet. Every indication made it seem like it was a normal rainy day. We noticed a crowd forming by the windows and looked to see why.

Not even a year after Columbine, and we see a heavily armed SWAT team rushing into our school. We hadn’t heard any gun shots. Were we about to? Was some horrible crime being committed that would require such fire power in a school zone? We could only assume there must be.

No one was being permitted to leave or enter the school. Parents drove by noticing the police presence and feared the worst. The building housed 5th — 12th grade. Small children saw the men with masks and weapons in the halls, and were so scared some peed themselves.

By the time we made it back to our seats, the SWAT team in full combat gear was inside. They asked our Teacher for Craig and George. I watched in disbelief as they handcuffed them both and paraded them through the school at gunpoint.

Me and Janet chased after them but they were gone.

The principal, in disbelief himself, looked on in shock. I screamed at him. What the fuck is going on!?” He said he didn’t know. I told him ”fuck that shit yes you do!” I was blacked out irate. My two best friends had just been taken from me.

A few minutes later at my locker, Sal saw me being hysterical and asked why. My eyes were blurry and my voice was cracking. The hallways were frantic. Everyone stared at my furious tirade, as I tried to explain what I just saw.

I didn’t know it yet but dozens of people had also just been arrested. I also didn’t know that Sal was one of the people who snitched. All of that partying in his mom’s basement caught up. The cops were threatening to take his mom’s house and leave the family homeless, if he didn’t cooperate. We thought of them as snitches, but those kids were victims, collateral damage in an imperialist drug war perpetuated by small-minded small town cops.

That entire exhibition was a farce, conducted only to make it look like they were hot-shot detectives. Articles were written about the excessive force used to apprehend teenage potheads. It was embarrassing for the sheriff’s department, and it still is.

Some of the kids arrested were back in school after the long weekend, which made the bust all the more ridiculous.

They even arrested an entirely wrong person because he had the same name. This poor kid had a SWAT team take him from his house and was placed in jail, all due to mistaken identity. How in-depth can your investigation really be if you don’t realize the person in your custody isn’t the person you’ve been spying on for six months?

Craig and George went to jail a few months later and were on probation for years. The cops claimed they wanted to derail drug use but it didn’t work. The war on drugs continues to be proven ineffective. All it did was make us more paranoid and untrusting. We didn’t know if there’d be another bust, or if our friends were working undercover.

It made me smarter though. Sometime it’s good to be paranoid. I never got in any real trouble in High School. I distanced myself from the dope game, though not entirely. Craig was basically finished. The rest of the Crew would graduate soon as well.

It was time to move on from the Crew. It was time for my Squad to reign supreme and take control of the school. If I could get through that summer, our senior year would be dynastic.