Barnes and Organized Crime




Introduction. 2

Organized Crime. 2

Barnes’s Trouble with the Law.. 3

Barnes as an Organized Criminal 4

Structure of the Organization. 4

Barnes’ Organizational Skills. 4

Conclusion. 5

References. 6

Barnes and Organized Crime


Nicky Barnes was born on October 15, 1933. He later became one of the most notorious drug dealers in New York. Barnes had formed a network that enabled him to handle one of the largest shares of the heroin trade in New York City. However, even after eluding the police for some years, Nicky Barnes was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment (Dogin, 2014). This paper sets out to investigate Barnes’ history and operation, and how his environment influenced his activities.

Organized Crime

Barnes is known for his involvement in the drug trade in New York. He became famous for the formation of the criminal organization referred to as “The Council” which handled one of the largest shares of the heroin trade in the city. The Council recruited suppliers for the heroin and also made decisions on how to handle difficult situations that arose in the course of the trade. Barnes also took part in the sale and distribution of illegal weapons as can be seen from his arrest in 1976 for the possession of illegal weapons. In his early years in the trade, he had also been involved in the burglary and breaking into cars (Martens, 1990). 


Barnes was known for using unique techniques in carrying out heroin trade and other crimes. The exchange of money and the drugs for the trade would happen in ways that the police could not detect. Barnes would meet with his supplier where they would exchange the keys to their cars with Barnes’s car carrying the money and the supplier’s car the drugs (Dogin, 2014). One of Barnes’s men would then drive the car to their warehouse. This method was different from that of other groups who would exchange the drugs openly making for police detection highly likely.

Barnes had also learned to create many levels of people between him and the drug business to avoid detection by the police. Other groups relied on conventional techniques whereby the leader would be involved in the distribution of drugs and money collection. However, Barnes developed a way to create an organization to deal with the distribution of the drugs. Furthermore, there were men responsible for the supply of drugs and the collection of money. This enabled Barnes to avoid police detection for a long time.

Barnes’s Trouble with the Law

Barnes was always determined to develop an organization that would dominate the drug trade and allows him to make as much money as possible. The goal was to create a drug empire in New York City. However, these plans were thwarted in 1965 where he was arrested for being in possession of more than $500,000 worth of drugs. During this time, Barnes’s organization had considerably grown, with about 50 men working for him. After his imprisonment, the task of building the organization became difficult. Later, he won an appeal on his case and got released (Albanese, 2003).

After his release, Barnes was determined to continue building his organization and, therefore, formed The Council, which was responsible for the distribution of the drugs in the City. His arrest in 1977 on narcotics conspiracy charges and the subsequent life imprisonment sentence left his organization in chaos. It became disorganized, and the flow of trade was interrupted. His decision to testify later led to the fall of the organization after most of his associates were arrested. Before his arrest, Barnes was always careful to ensure that his employees did not steal from him. To ensure loyalty, Barnes would punish any disloyalty from his workers, sometimes by death. The Council also looked into all employees to ensure that none was working against them.

Barnes as an Organized Criminal

Organized crime refers to groupings of enterprises, whether transnational, national or local, which are run with the sole purpose of engaging in illegal activities. Some of the illegal activities these enterprises engage in include drug trafficking, the sale of firearms, and trafficking in humans (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2013). Organized criminals are the people taking part in such activities, mostly as heads of these organizations. Barnes was involved in drug trafficking in New York, which means he fits into the category of organized criminals.

Despite his involvement in the drug trade, the community was tolerant of Barnes’s activities. This was because he was involved in activities that benefitted the community around him. There were times when Barnes would give money and food to the community. Due to his generosity, people loved being around him and as a result, no one was willing to speak out against his drug trade activities.

Structure of the Organization

Nicky Barnes formed The Council, which was responsible for the running of the drug trade. The council was made up of seven men and was responsible for handling distribution, settling disputes and any other problems that arose from these activities. Nicky Barnes was the head of the Council and had veto power. The Council would give instructions to the main suppliers who would pass it on to other suppliers in different places (Martens, 1990).

Barnes’ Organizational Skills

The fact that Barnes was able to form The Council which led to the rise of a drug empire shows that he had good organizational skills. However, he could not use such skills in a legitimate business. Barnes was accustomed to deviant behavior since his childhood hence it would have been difficult for him to engage in a legitimate business. This can be seen, for example, in the way, he began selling and using heroin at a young age. The taste of the gangster life made it impossible for him to engage in a legitimate business. Further, Barnes grew up in a neighborhood that advocated for such illegal activities. For example, his father was also involved in the drug trade. Barnes’ environment, therefore, made it difficult for him to engage in a legitimate business.


Nicky Barnes successfully created a drug empire that distributed drugs in New York. His organizational skills enabled him to structure the organization in ways that made it difficult for the police to detect his activities. Moreover, his involvement in activities that benefitted society further ensured that the community was tolerant of his activities. However, his arrest and jail time led to the collapse of the organization.


Albanese J. (2003). The prediction and control of organized crime: A risk assessment instrument for targeting law enforcement efforts. Rockville, MD: National Criminal Justice Reference Service. 

Dogin H. (2014). Drug enforcement administration. Retrieved February 17, 2016, from:

Martens F. T. (1990). African-American organized crime: An ignored phenomenon. Federal Probation,54(4), 43.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2013). Organized crime. Retrieved February 17, 2016, from

Get a 5 % discount on an order above $ 100
Use the following coupon code :