Former New York heroin kingpin Leroy “Nicky” Barnes recently sat down with journalist and radio host Judith Regan during a two-part interview with Sirius satellite radio to discuss his life, prison, Hip-Hop and his new book, Mr. Untouchable, The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of Heroin’s Teflon Don.
Regan, who was involved in a firestorm of controversy over the unpublished book and TV special If I Did It by OJ Simpson, interviewed Barnes, who has been named checked in songs by rappers like Shyne, Loon, Nas and others.
Barnes was dubbed “Mr. Untouchable” and was one of the biggest heroin dealers in New York.
He headed up the “council of seven,” a consortium of drug dealers who united to organize the Harlem heroin business.
He earned tens of millions of dollars through his drug operation and his life story was the basis of the hit 1991 movie New Jack City, which starred rapper Ice-T and Wesley Snipes as the fictional character “Nino Brown.”
At his height of power Barnes owned two gas stations, travel agencies, over 300 custom-tailored suits, at least two Citroën-Maseratis, four Mercedes’ and he even invested in two federally insured housing projects in Detroit and Cleveland.
Barnes had been arrested on numerous occasions, from murder, to drug dealing, but each time, he managed to avoid prosecution.
According to Barnes, who is in the federal witness protection program, fans of Hip-Hop will identify with his book, but some may question his integrity, because of his cooperation with prosecutors.
“I think that the guys in the Hip-Hop industry might, you know, give me some points for gettin’ money at [a] time back in the ’70s when no blacks were getting it, you know, at that level,” Barnes said. “But after I began to cooperate, I don’t think they [would] hold me as a role model for something that they themselves would wanna be.”
Barnes was convicted of narcotics conspiracy drug crimes in 1977 and sentenced to life in prison.
The drug baron turned states evidence shortly after his conviction, when a member of the council broke a major rule and had an affair with his wife.
In response, Barnes turned states evidence, implicated himself in eight murders and forwarded the government names and a list of crimes that implicated his former wife, business associates and five of the council members.
“The disloyalty coming from particular…guys…was something that still annoys the s**t out of me right now when I think about it,” Barnes told Regan of the situation.
Barnes received a lesser sentence for cooperating and had his life sentence commuted to a 30-year-term by Rudy Guiliani.
With his new book in stores and his popularity on the rise again, Barnes jokingly considered entering into the Hip-Hop industry.
“Maybe we can write a couple-a Hip-Hop songs out of it and earn some money out of it,” Barnes said. “But I don’t think that none of them would be interested in having Nicky Barnes over for dinner.”
Part two of Judith Regan’s interview with Nicky Barnes airs on Wednesday (June 20) on Sirius satellite radio.