Chapter One

“Man, look at all the cops! They’re everywhere! We’ve got to get out of here! Man, go! Go! Go! Go!”

“Where to, Ricky?”

“I don’t know! Man… I’m busted! Did you see all those cops?”

Well, that was the situation when I arrived at my house in West Feliciana Parish one afternoon in 1986. Swat teams, state police, surveillance teams, and local police had kicked my door down, and they weren’t playing. I had sold some pot to a friend of mine that morning, but had no idea that he was in trouble with the law. He was looking at some time, and had consequently made a deal. The deal was that he was turning state’s evidence and the evidence was my dope. I had been smuggling drugs out of Mexico for many years and the West Feliciana police wanted me badly. When I arrived at my house and saw all the commotion, I hit the road running.

I went to a friend’s house to regroup, to develop a plan and, of course, to get high. The plan was to sneak back home at midnight to get Jeannie, my wife, and Stirling, my one year old son. Yeah, this will be cool. We’ll move and I’ll use my alias, James Louis Winnfield. I traded my Chevy truck for a green T-Bird and then sent word to Jeannie that I would be coming to get her. I felt confident that this would work.

That night I carried out the plan. It did work. Jeannie was packed and ready. We were off and running. We went to Baton Rouge and rented a motel room. I made a few phone calls and hooked up with a couple of my buddies down there. I needed their help; we needed somewhere to stay for a while.

Later, four or five of my friends showed up at our motel room. We partied: drank, got high, got the munchies. We were really hungry, but there wasn’t anything to eat. So, my buddies and I decided to run up to the local Taco Bell.

We left Jeannie and Stirling at the motel. We piled into my green T- Bird and lit out for the grub. John drove. We parked at the 7-11 store next door to the Taco Bell. We were almost through burning a doobie when a guy, a friend of one of my buddies, walked up and leaned in the window. The next second we were surrounded by undercover narcotics agents. It happened so fast. My heart was racing. I had to think up something quick.

“All right, everybody out of the car. Turn around, put your hands against the car, legs spread.”

“What’s your name boy?” one of the cops aske me.

“James Louis Winnfield, Sir.”

“Where do you live?”

“At 921 Lanier Street, Apartment 951.”

“Let me see your driver’s license. What do you do for a living?”

“Sir, I do independent mechanic work, and I just lost my driver’s license three days ago. I haven’t even had a chance to get another one yet. Life’s been hectic lately, Sir. I don’t even know why I’m hanging out with people like this. I came from a real good family, Sir.”

It turned out that Mike and John were as hot as I was; the cops had been looking for them. As the police were escorting them off, I yelled out to John and asked if he wanted me to drive “his car” home. He said yes. The officers had no objections. It was incredible-things had gone so smoothly. There I was, a natural born con artist, driving off in what they thought was someone else’s car, and without a driver’s license. Man, I could lie with the best of ‘em.

I drove back to the motel and told Jeannie what had happened. She could hardly believe it. We discussed our situation; with John and Mike in jail, we were going to need a new plan. But what? Randy! I’ll hook up with Randy. Surely he’ll put us up till I can sort things out.

We spent that night in our hotel room, and then packed up and headed to Randy’s house the next morning. He was glad to see us, but I don’t think his wife was too enthused. She didn’t care much for our kind of adventure, and to top it off, we were broke. Having no money, I had to risk going back to West Feliciana to harvest my weed. I talked Randy into going with me. That night we headed out for the woods near my house. Randy drove around while I went into the woods with a flashlight and harvested two duffel bags of marijuana. We met up at the appointed time and headed back to his house. Success!

We stayed with Randy for a couple of days, and then it was time to move on. We headed towards New Orleans, selling weed, staying wherever we could. We hung out for a little while with Bobby, a friend of my cousin’s on the west bank in New Orleans. While there, I bought an alias, Kent Douglas Smith. I got everything name, social security number, birth certificate- for $75.00.

Things started slowing down in New Orleans, so we left Bobby and headed for Baton Rouge. It was night and the lights on the T-Bird began flittering. We pulled off the interstate on an exit ramp in a town where Marty, another friend, lived. We went by his house and he helped me repair the electrical problem. I explained our situation to him. He suggested that we move to Chalmette. His uncle was getting him a job at a plant down there and he was hopeful that he could get me a job too.

So we went to Chalmette, Louisiana in St. Bernard Parish near New Orleans. Marty rented the cheapest place he could find, a dumpy motel room, but we were grateful to have it. We were broke; our weed had run out. Our son was wearing a bath towel for a diaper and was living off a pint of watered down milk per day. We were skimping by on one turkey ham sandwich per day, but at least we were together and free, no cops.

We met a couple down there and they soon became our friends. Glen introduced us to his girlfriend’s ex-husband, Ricky, and his wife, Susie. Ricky and Susie really liked us. They were our kind. Susie made me a fake ID for Kent Douglas Smith, and I used it to get a check cashing card. Glen got me a job as a painter in Violet. Things were going pretty good.

I decided that it was time to move from our dumpy motel room; we had been there long enough. Glen found a small shotgun house for rent. It was a mansion compared to the motel room. I called my mother and asked her to buy my trailer in West Feliciana Parish; she did. She brought $1,500 to us in Chalmette and we put up a deposit on the house, along with the first month’s rent, and moved in. Glen moved in with us. He had some living room furniture and a bed. Jeannie dragged home an old single size box spring that she found beside a garbage dumpster. It had a spring poking through the surface on Jeannie’s side of course! Ah, home sweet home! We celebrated our new home; Glen and I used the remainder of the money shooting dope.

I soon met some new “business” people. It was time to get things going. We set up shop. I made a few more phone calls and was soon back in business. My new connections sent in 4 Mexicans with a shipment. They stayed at my house with my wife and kid while Glen and I moved the weed. These guys were nobody to play around with. One of Glen’s friends had spent some of their money free basing cocaine; he didn’t see his kid again, until he paid. Y eah, everything was back to normal: dealing, using, and smuggling. I was a junky who dealt drugs to do drugs, but it was catching up with me fast.

After a few weeks, Glen’s girlfriend started freaking me out. She was the type that would rat on you. We moved in with Ricky and Susie for a couple of weeks to get away from her. Finally, I got my connection to front me some money for a deposit on a little house near the airport. We moved again. I liked Glen, but felt safer without him.

One morning in January 1987, 1 went to the bus station and picked up Lialo, a Mexican smuggler who was delivering me 30 pounds of marijuana. Lialo, would stay with me long enough for me to sell enough dope to pay for the shipment, and then he would return to Mexico to get another shipment. He was a sitter, a guerrilla who was there not only to deliver, but also to make sure that I paid. I was a junky, and my habit was expensive. Many times I would be broke when the shipment arrived, and the sitter would hang around for a day or two while I sold enough dope to pay him. That happened to be the situation this day.

At 10:00 p.m. the police rammed through my door with a 4-man ramming bar -what a shocking entrance! One minute we were relaxed watching TV, the next minute there were a dozen cops in my living room. There was no time to react. They were yelling, “On the floor! Everybody! Hands behind your heads! If your hands leave your head, your head leaves your shoulders!”

Busted again. There were seven of us there, plus my one year old son. The police took my child, handcuffed the rest of us, and hauled us to the St. Bernard Parish jail. They later released everyone except Lialo and me, Kent Douglas Smith. We were booked with possession with intent to distribute 14 pounds of marijuana and 1 ounce of ecstasy. Thank goodness for the fake ID and birth certificate. My cousin will bond me out and we’ll move again. Well, that’s what I thought.

“Well now, Mr. Sinclair,” the sergeant said as he walked up to my cell. “Mr. Ricky Sinclair.”

My heart dropped. I was speechless. They’ve really got me; they know who I am. Did he say Ricky Sinclair? He did. They’ve got me. My heart sank further as I remembered the warrant in West Feliciana Parish. I’m in big trouble. This could mean prison. This will mean prison! What can I do? What will I do? The thoughts were coming fast. I was ghastly afraid. My freedom. God help me. What will I do? These are major charges and now they’ll know about West Feliciana Parish. How did they get my name? This is a nightmare.

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