And then crack cocaine burst into the ghetto....... By 1989, Nottinghamshire Police had begun to see the symptoms of this new cocaine derivative on the streets of Radford, St Ann’s and the Meadows. It wasn’t that they were arresting more people or busting the crack houses which had begun to spring up, or that they were making huge seizures of the drug; it was the sinister breakdown of morality. Crack left an indelible trail everywhere its users went: prostitutes beaten black and blue by their cane-carrying, crack-smoking pimps; men willing to sell their own girlfriends on the streets to buy more crack, and the girlfriends willing participants because they needed their crack pipe full too; robbers who previously drew the line at stealing a handbag from a pensioner now not only robbing them but beating them black and blue when there wasn’t enough money in the stolen purse to get a rock. It was not just that this drug left the rude boys unable to pay their debts, it was morally bankrupting sections of certain communities in Nottingham, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and London. In June 1989, the Nottinghamshire drug squad made its first major seizure of crack. Roy Scott, aged thirty-six, a small-time street dealer from Denman Gardens, Radford, was stopped n the street with more than 120 rocks after a tip-off. Each rock of crack, from which you got about five smokes, was then selling at £25-£30. Scott was jailed for seven years. It was the largest single seizure of crack cocaine in the country that year and it came straight off the street; crack didn’t hang around in lock-ups for weeks like cocaine, heroin, speed, ecstasy or cannabis might, with dealers waiting for the right moment to shift it wholesale. Crack, by its nature, is consumed rapidly by its users and when it’s gone they crave more. It was a high-turnover trade. Mobile phones had also made dealing easy and the dealers distanced themselves from potential arrest further by corrupting the local youth. At the bottom of this huge business pyramid, permeated with crack and heroin, the twelve- and thirteen-year-olds who rode around St Ann’s on mountain bikes would take the risks. Rocks of crack in pocket, they would make handovers and get paid a few pounds by the dealer. Career paths no longer meant anything to these teenagers; they weren’t bothered if the police picked them up. What could the police do when they told officers they had just
found the bag of drugs in the street? As youngsters they aspired to be footballers or pop stars, not doctors or police officers, and if they didn’t make it they knew they would be able to make it as drug dealers in a few years’ time. Then they too could have a BMW and some nice jewellery. One of the principal reasons that crack cocaine was turning up with the same regularity and volume as in London was Nottingham’s links to Jamaica. Even before crack began to appear, Jamaican criminals on the run, often from London, would regularly lie low in Nottingham with a distant relative or friend. But now the violent gangsters known as Yardies were appearing on the streets. Political turmoil in Jamaica caused many to flee for the United States and the United Kingdom. Many gravitated first to London, then began moving to provincial cities like Nottingham. They hung around the Black and White Café on Radford Road and the Marcus Garvey Centre on Lenton Boulevard, and swaggered around in heavy gold selling rocks down at a cavernous late-night drinking hole on Ilkeston Road, the Tally Ho (later called the Lenton, then the Drum). It was popular with some of the black homeboys, but even they knew not to push it when the Yardies were around. They were all unaware that an undercover cop from London was hanging around too, having managed to convince everyone he was a Yardie. The Tally Ho was seen as an ideal shop front from which to peddle rocks without the potential danger of bumping into rival posse members, as frequently happened in London, often with fatal consequences. In addition, they had a ready-made market, as the Tally Ho was a favourite haunt for white street girls who would sell their skinny bodies every night on Forest Road for the price of a few rocks of crack. Politically and socially, Jamaica was going through torrid times. The peaceful movement of Rastafarianism, led by Bob Marley, masked deep troubles. Corrupt politicians working for the two main political parties, the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), were recruiting crack dealers from the ghettos of Kingston and Spanish Town at an alarming rate. These politicians needed the fear the Yardies brought to enforce their will and keep the lid on their own criminal activities. This was complicated further by the fact that Jamaica had become
a stop-off point in the shipment of cocaine from South America to the United States. Someone on the island had discovered that if you boiled down the cocaine with some baking soda in a pan you could remove impurities and create a hard rock which, if smoked, could take you to the moon – but only for a brief few minutes. Young Jamaican men soon didn’t care if smoking this stuff was like putting a gun to your head; after just a few tokes from a makeshift pipe fashioned from a beer or pop can, they were ready to sell their souls for the next hit. It was just about the most addictive drug that enforcement agencies had ever come across and pretty soon it was making its way to the UK – and taking a leading role in the most violent crimes in this country. The three things you could be sure of if you had bumped into a Yardie in the early 1990s were that they would have a wad of cash on them, some rocks of crack (or access to them), and, most of all, a firearm close to hand. In the early hours of 30 May 1993, a blues party was well underway in a disused warehouse in Ashforth Street, St Ann’s. Among those who had been forewarned about the event was the Yardie Eaton Green. Green had fled to the UK to escape an attempted murder charge in Jamaica and to eldue fellow Yardies who had scores to settle. By the age of twelve, he had left school in downtown Kingston and was mixing with gangsters who had affiliations with the PNP. They ran areas of the city with the help of corrupt politicians and policemen. By the time of the 1980 elections in Jamaica, the criminal gangs were merging almost seamlessly with the politicians. Green was at the vortex of it, now a gunman doing the bidding of corrupt PNP leaders who wanted to take down rivals working for the JLP. Green became part of the Tel Aviv Crew, named after the slum area of Kingston where he was brought up. These were government housing projects built around yards, hence the name ‘Yardie’. The Tel Aviv Crew was divided into a number of posses or gangs, including the Rapid Posse, the Kremlin Posse and the Desert Posse, to which Green belonged during the 1980s. Before the decade was over he had been involved in a number of murders, which he would later confess to, spent four years in prison and been arrested for a multitude of crimes, from murder to armed robbery. Reluctance on the part of witnesses to come forward
shielded him from several life sentences in Jamaica. In 1991, awaiting trial for a shooting, he jumped bail, booked a flight to the UK and walked through immigration to begin what he hoped would be a new and prosperous life. Green was a dangerous man who was known to use a firearm at the slightest provocation. He became a frequent visitor to Nottingham from London and was soon known to the police. Nottinghamshire Police intelligence picked up information that Green was selling crack cocaine in the city: his name had cropped up in the letters written by Ian Bedward which were seized by police. In fact Green was only one of a small but growing number of Yardies branching out from the capital and selling drugs in the major provincial cities of Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. According to testimony at a later court trial, two brothers from Birmingham who had recently fallen out with the Robinsons in an apparent turf rivalry were expected at the blues party, which began on the night of 29 May. Police suspected these brothers were ferrying large amounts of cocaine into Nottingham. Eaton Green, who had been partying at the Marcus Garvey Centre in Nottingham the previous night with some Yardie friends, had also been ‘dissed’ by some of the locals. One of them had saluted Asher’s sound coming from the speakers with a volley of gunfire into the ceiling, which had almost deafened one of Green’s associates, Rohan ‘Bumpy’ Thomas. Bumpy wasn’t happy. By 3.30am, the Ashforth Street party was in full swing, with around 200 punters enjoying heavy bass sounds from the booming speakers. Then chaos erupted. Five men – one dressed in a bandana and brandishing a Luger pistol, two others with handguns and another with a shotgun – burst into the building and switched the lights on. The music ground to a halt. The silence was broken by two blasts as a shotgun was fired into the ceiling by one of the raiders. Next, they began to strip customers of their money and jewellery. Their leader, Eaton Green, brandished his Luger in the face of a number of the men present, taking interest in one in particular, Michael Johnson, who had refused to hand over anything and made to run away. Green took aim and fired. The bullet missed Johnson and instead hit twenty-year-old Leibert ‘Bubbler’ Henry in the foot. Two other men who refused to take this disrespect without a fight
were beaten up by Green and his associates. ‘We are the Seek and Destroy Posse and this is a robbery,’ Green screamed at the terrified partygoers. Leibert Henry, blood pumping out of his damaged foot, pleaded to be let out of the building to get medical help but Green refused, taunting him with the words, ‘Bleed pussy, bleed.’ The gunmen then demanded that the men be separated from the women and began to remove jewellery, money, credit cards, mobile phones and drugs. The incident was over within half an hour but in that time Green and his gang robbed more people in one go than at any other recorded British crime scene. The Birmingham brothers Green was looking for did not appear to be among the partygoers but he evidently felt some part of his mission had been accomplished by robbing the locals and ‘dissing’ them. At first Operation Warehouse, as the police investigation was called, dug up few leads to the gunmen’s identity. But gradually a picture began to emerge of some of the assailants. The main protagonist was a slim, young black man in his late twenties with a large scar across his right cheek wearing a bandana and had answered to the name Leon, which Nottinghamshire detectives knew from recent intelligence was Green’s street name. Another man had the nickname Bumpy, according to some of the witnesses. The vehicle Green and his associates had driven from London was found to be a hire car booked from a company based at Heathrow Airport. CCTV images obtained from the company showed Green and two of his gang meeting Elaine Robinson at Heathrow. Nevertheless, for Nottinghamshire Police the biggest revelation was yet to come....