'Miami Boys' Changing Atlanta Drug SceneLESLIE LLOYD , Associated Press
Feb. 10, 1988 1:47 PM ET
ATLANTA (AP) _ One youth outlined the word ''Miami'' on his teeth in gold and diamonds. Others wear Miami T-shirts, jackets and hats to flaunt their status as Miami Boys, a loose-knit band of drug dealers who have brought their cocaine and violence north to Atlanta.
''Georgia is sitting on top of a volcano,'' said Jimmy Davis, supervisor of drug enforcement for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. ''The South Florida Vice Presidential Task Force has put so much pressure on drug dealers ... they've branched out.''
At the height of Miami's cocaine wars, the task force was established to strengthen drug enforcement in southern Florida. Its efforts have driven some dealers farther north, resulting in calls from Georgia officials for similar aid.
The Miami Boys once was a formal gang that moved in recent years to Atlanta's low-income areas to sell drugs, said Lt. John Woodard, commander of the narcotics and vice unit of the Atlanta Bureau of Police Services.
''Now you've got so many imitators,'' Woodard explained. ''It's the glamour of the drug culture.''
Woodard said he noticed about two years ago the young men, ranging in age from 15 to about 25, coming to Atlanta to sell cocaine and crack.
Police suspected a trend when they found several people carrying larger than usual amounts of cocaine. Instead of just a few small bags of the drug, the men had 200 to 300 bags, Woodard said.
In addition to large amounts of narcotics, Miami Boys have changed Georgia's drug business with their violent tactics. Uzis and Soviet assault rifles frequently are weapons of protection and aggression, Woodard said.
Proud of their affiliation, some dealers wear Miami T-shirts, hats and jackets. Sometimes they pose for pictures with their guns, cocaine and crack, Woodard said.
He said about 20 Miami Boys have been arrested, some more than once, over the last two years on drugs and weapons charges.
''The thing that worries us is that they are very violent in their approach to law enforcement and their clientele,'' Davis said.
''Sellers hold a gun on buyers,'' Woodard added. ''That is a new situation.''
Not only the buyer and the seller are at risk, but sometimes an innocent bystander can get caught in the crossfire.
In October, a 60-year-old woman was killed during a shootout between drug dealers over territory. A drug dealer was killed by a Miami Boy during a shootout in January 1987, Woodard said.
Cocaine and crack in Atlanta now fetch a much higher price than in Miami, allowing south Florida suppliers to reap greater profits for drugs sold in Atlanta. Most of the Miami Boys are paid to come here by a larger supplier, officials said.
Although they are no longer a formal gang, many of the Miami Boys stick together, Woodard said.
''There's some kind of group mentality,'' he said, adding that many of the local drug sellers here have been pushed out by the young men from Florida.
The trend doesn't surprise many law enforcment officials who are trying to find a way to push the Miami Boys out of the Atlanta area.
Davis compared the South Florida drug trade to a balloon that has burst. Now Georgia should have its turn at federal money and personnel that South Florida has been receiving, Davis said.
''Georgia hasn't received the federal dollars to combat the problem,'' he said. ''I think (many drug dealers) have by and large left Miami.''
Meanwhile, law enforcement officers in Atlanta said they are trying to work with South Florida authorities and present a front against the group. However, that proves difficult when manpower is short, Woodard said.
''The only way to stop them ... is to put on constant pressure until they have to leave,'' he said.