The Nicky Barnes Story

The Nicky Barnes Story

Leroy “Nicky” Barnes was a drug lord who operated in New York City where he became a powerful figure in New York’s underworld during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Barnes grew up in a low-income housing project in Harlem, where poverty and social inequality were rampant. He became involved in the drug trade at a young age and quickly rose through the ranks of the city’s drug dealers. Barnes was known for his luxurious lifestyle, which included expensive cars, jewellery, and impeccable dress sense.

In 1972, Barnes formed “The Council” to manage and supervise the distribution of drugs in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. The Council was based on a “democratic format” — with one vote per man — with each of the members a subsidiary company. Whereas La Cosa Nostra was formed upon a tenet of Catholicism, Barnes built The Council using aspects of Black Nationalism, and Niccolo Macchiavelli’s The Prince.

Barnes’ empire was incredibly profitable. According to an undercover DEA agent, The Council was taking in as much as $84 million a year.

Two of Barnes’ alleged top lieutenants were Guy Fisher and Frank James.

Guy Fisher was a DJ who utilized lessons he learned from Barnes to create a “Merry Go Round” between the plug, dealer, and user, while James had been arrested six times on narcotics and other charges and served a prison sentence for manslaughter.

In addition to his involvement in the drug trade, Barnes also played a role in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

He was involved with groups like the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam, and he used his drug profits to fund their activities. While his support of these movements was admirable, his involvement in the drug trade ultimately overshadowed his contributions to the cause.

Later in life, Barnes became a government informant and provided information that led to the arrest and conviction of several of his former associates. While some may see this as a betrayal, Barnes’ decision to cooperate enabled him to obtain release from Prison in 1998.

Following his death in June 2012, Nicky Barnes is remembered as one of the most influential Black underworld figures during the 70s and into the early 1980s.