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Fri Nov 29, 2019, 10:22 PM

Family confirms death of Nicky Barnes, flamboyant drug kingpin who taunted authorities

“Nicky Barnes is not around anymore,” said the balding grandfather.

“Nicky Barnes’ lifestyle and his value system is extinct,” he continued, speaking of himself in the third person during a restaurant interview with The New York Times in 2007. “I left Nicky Barnes behind.” With that, the man asked the waitress for a takeout bag, packed up his grilled salmon and limped away.

He was a shell of his former self — an antithesis of the old Nicky Barnes: a flamboyant Harlem folk hero who had owned as many as 200 suits, 100 pairs of custom-made shoes, 50 full-length leather coats, a fleet of luxury cars, and multiple homes and apartments financed by the fortune he had amassed in the late 1960s and '70s, first by saturating black neighborhoods with heroin and later by investing the profits in real estate and other assets.

Moreover, he was in fact no longer Nicky Barnes, not even by name. Convicted in 1977 and imprisoned for more than two decades, he ultimately testified against his former associates, ensuring their convictions, and was released into the federal witness protection program under a new identity.


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