YBI to the Day I Die
It’s the early eighties, and a new organization is revolutionizing the heroin trade: Young Boys Inc. Unlike other drug operations, YBI recruits juveniles, brands smack as if it were designer clothing, and moves the industry out of the dope houses and onto the corners. As YBI’s relentless expansion causes more and more bloodshed, its foot soldiers must reckon with their impact on Detroit.
LISTEN TO CHAPTER FIVE
THEM YOUNG BOYS
According to Detroit Police Department narcotics officer Delbert Jennings, these were some of the street corners where YBI would sell heroin in the late 1970s and early 1980s. On occasion, they would give away free drugs to attract customers. Photos by Drew Nelles.
Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. This season is made in partnership with Gimlet Media and Spotify. It’s produced by Rob Szypko, John White, Soraya Shockley, and Samantha Lee. The senior producer is Drew Nelles. Editing by Zac Stuart-Pontier and Marc Smerling. Fact-checking by Jennifer Blackman. This episode was mixed, sound designed, and scored by Sam Bair. Additional sound design by Kenny Kusiak. Original music this season composed by Homer Steinweiss. We recorded some original music at Rustbelt Studios in Detroit in partnership with Detroit Sound Conservancy. Special thanks to Carleton Gholz and Maurice “Pirahnahead” Herd. Additional music by John Kusiak, Kenny Kusiak, and Jon Ivans, and additional mixing by Bobby Lord. Our theme song is “Politicians In My Eyes” by Death. Our credit music this week is “I Won’t Be Your Fool” by Detroit Soul Ambassador Melvin Davis.
Archival research by Brennan Rees. Archival footage courtesy of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History. Show art and design by James Cabrera and Elise Harven. To learn more about YBI, check out the book “Bound By Honor, Torn By Greed: The True and Untold Story of Young Boys Incorporated,” by Pep Cooper, Piks M., and India Williams. Thanks to the Detroit Free Press, Peter Bhatia, Jim Schaeffer, Mary Schroeder, Mary Wallace, the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Melissa Samson, the Detroit Historical Society, Chuck Lindsey, Michael Squirewell, Bill Dwyer, Otis Culpepper, Al Kirschner, Vince Wade, Scott Burnstein, Mark Binelli, Charlie LeDuff, and everyone who shared their stories with us. Detroit is an amazing place, and we’re honored to tell a small part of its story.