More than 22 million Americans ages 12 and older have used illegal drugs. That’s nearly 9% of the total U.S. population. Such a demand creates an opportunity for criminals, terrorist organizations, and even corrupt governments who all want to profit from the drug business. If you want to use an illegal drug, you’re going to need a reliable and consistent source for the drug. Enter the low-level drug dealer. Many large-scale drug operations sell or outsource their distribution to smaller groups. These dealers send their drugs to the higher level dealers who sell the drugs to mid-level dealers, all the way down the totem pole to the low-level drug dealers.
In this article, the author follows a drug dealer named Carlo around New York City. Carlo sells hundreds of MDMA pills in a week but he also sells cannabis, cocaine, ketamine, and even psychedelic mushrooms. The author describes Carlo’s diverse clientele in great detail. Some of his clients are businessmen, college students, bankers, professors, and lawyers. According to the author, many of Carlo’s clients use marijuana to help with their illnesses instead of using their prescribed medications.
One of the most interesting aspects of the article is how the author describes Carlo the drug dealer. Carlo is not the “stereotypical” drug dealer (a.k.a. young, uneducated, poor, static). Instead, the author describes Carlo as mobile, friendly, college educated, over thirty, and very knowledgeable about the drugs that he sells. Carlo’s life may seem glamorous even, as he caters to the drug needs of the wealthy and elite. However, even Carlo recognizes how dangerous his job really can be. Someone can rat him out to the police or a rival dealer may decide to dispose of Carlo. Even though Carlo has been in the drug dealing business for 15 years, he knows it cannot be a permanent position.
Carlo is unique in the fact that he appears to be able to make a living selling expensive drugs to wealthy clients. However, not every drug dealer is able to live off the profits of the drugs they sell. Most low-level dealers do not make as much money as people believe. The average drug dealer typically has another job, and sometimes it’s a legitimate job. In this article, True Lives of Low Level Drug Dealers, the author found that most low-level drug dealers only make $20,000 to $30,000 a year. Even with the numerous risks, many people turn to drug dealing because of the flexible hours and the ability to make more money than at a regular job. One dealer from the article, a man called Shorts, says he has a full-time job making a few bucks over the minimum wage. This money pays for his basic necessities, but the money from drug dealing allows him more financial freedom.