Some people called it Chocolate City.  Others called it Drama City.  ‘It’ was Southwest Washington D.C.  The worst kind of ghetto, made up of tenement houses, fleabag motels, and rat-infested apartment buildings.  Slums didn’t even begin to describe the poverty and squalor of the area.

Chocolate City was where Wayne Anthony Perry was born on November 14, 1962.  He grew up on L Street, in the area called 203.  203 was one of the worst sections of Chocolate City.  It had the worst drug problem, the worst violence and the worst crime.  The people who lived there had two vocational choices:  sports or crime.  Either one might provide a way out of Chocolate City.  Lack of talent and poverty pushed most people to choose crime.

Wayne Perry was good at sports.  So good that he was smooth.  His smoothness earned him the nickname of ‘Silk.’  Bestowed upon him by his half-brother, who was called Lop, the nickname stuck.  From that moment on, everyone knew Wayne Perry as Silk.

But crime was easier and it paid better than a ‘could be’ ‘wanna be’ future in professional sports.  Crime paid right now.  So by the time he was 12 years old, Silk was seduced by the gangster lifestyle.  He began as a ‘lookout’ for the older gangbangers as they hustled.  Hustling referred to dealing drugs, robbing a store, and gambling.  If he saw a police car coming, Silk would signal a warning, and everyone would split.  In return, the older gangbangers taught Silk the art of hustling.

Silk was an excellent student. 

By the time he was 13, Silk was applying what he had learned.  Initially, it was gambling and petty theft.  Soon though, Silk graduated to bigger and better crimes.  Con games, dealing drugs and extortion became his featured items.  In 1978, at the age of 16, he robbed his first bank.  Robbing banks was easy and fun.  So Silk kept doing it.  He was making a lot of money.

When he wasn’t out hustling, if he had nothing else to do, sometimes Silk went to real school.  He attended Wilson High School, which was – supposedly – a place to get an education.  In reality, it was more like a gladiator school for gangbangers.  At Wilson, everyone was hustling everyone else.  And more often than not, Northwest gangs and Southwest gangs engaged in gang fights and riots on the campus.  It was one of those riots that sent Silk to jail for the first time.  [Author’s note:  most of the information in this article, including the quotes, came from U.S.A vs. Wayne Anthony Perry, CR No. 92-474, and from the Wayne ‘Silk’ Perry interview, which appeared in Don Diva magazine.]

It happened like this.  Wilson High School had unarmed guards in every hall of the school.  Which was the school’s attempt at keeping the peace.  But it didn’t work.  Free-for-all fights were everyday occurrences.  One day a riot broke out and someone shot one of the guards.  The police arrived and questioned the gangbangers, who pointed the finger at Silk.  Silk was arrested and charged with attempted murder.  When his case went to court, it was tossed out for lack of evidence. 

In his interview with Don Diva, Silk claimed he didn’t shoot the guard.  The other gangbangers set him up to take the fall, because they knew he “wouldn’t tell and I’d ride it out so they lied on me.”

Wilson High School was less demanding than the courts.  Wilson High School tossed Silk out rather than his case.  So he began attending Randall High School.  But that didn’t last long.  For as Silk told Don Diva, “I beat the baseball team coach with a bat at practice and I got barred out of all D.C. public schools, so I went to Franklin GED school cause the judge ordered me to and I had to kill a fool for telling me he was going to take my chain.”  Whether or not Silk actually murdered anyone at Franklin GED school was debatable.  There was no arrest and no record of Silk’s involvement in a murder.

Silk was now hustling full time.

In 1984, Silk shot and killed another gangbanger.  The gangbanger, who was looking for Silk so he could kill him, found him.  Pulling his gun, the gangbanger open-fired, but missed.  Silk returned fire, killing the gangbanger.  The whole thing took place right in front of a police car, which was parked nearby.  The police officers in the car testified that the murder was “self-defense,” but it was still murder.  So Silk went to prison.

They sent him to Lorton’s Youth Center One, which was one of the most violent and aggressive prisons of its time.  Going into Youth Center One was like going into combat in a war zone.  The inmates had a ‘kill or be killed’ philosophy.  Silk not only survived but honed his skills.  Brutality became his new featured item. 

When he got out of prison in 1987, Silk made a career change.  He became a hitman – murder-for-hire.  Murder and armed kidnappings became his meal ticket.  And the heavy drug-traffickers were the table he ate off of.  For the right price, Silk provided gourmet service. Silk didn’t do drive-bys or shoot across the street.  He walked right up to his target, busted his gun and shot them in the head.  His rep for viciousness kept him out of court.  No witness dared testify against Silk.  And he kept his homies loyal by gifts of money and drugs.  Silk took care of people, one way or the other. 

Silk ran a whole crew of serious killers, dudes that took his orders and weren’t afraid to bust guns and get their hands dirty.  He quickly established himself as the king of killers. 

Then in 1989, a Harlem drug-lord named Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez was looking to set up shop in D.C.  The recent conviction of Rayful Edmond, who was the premier D.C. drug lord, had left a vacancy.  Alpo wanted to be the one to take up residency.  Only he needed protection, because the D.C. gangbangers were volatile and they didn’t especially like interlopers moving in on their turf.  Alpo had the drugs and was ready to deal, but he needed a shield to keep him safe.  What he needed were some soldiers.

What he got was equal to an armored division.

Even though he was new to Chocolate City, Alpo knew who Silk was.  Silk’s reputation preceded him like wind around a hurricane.  Silk’s rep was that not only was he the Grim Reaper, but he also robbed and extorted drug dealers.  The more weight a drug dealer moved, the more Silk liked ripping him off.  Which meant most of the big dealers avoided Silk like the plague.  And Alpo, who wasn’t stupid, tried to dodge Silk too.

Eventually, though, the inevitable happened.  Alpo ran into Silk.

There are two different versions of how they met.  One version was Silk’s and one was Alpo’s.  Silk’s version of the story, as reported by Don Diva, went like this.  “I met Po in 1989.  I was out to destroy him over a lie a girl told me he said.  I didn’t know him, he was scared to death, but he was with my close comrade Lil Pop, who asked me not to kill Po.  The broad told me Alpo said he was putting a hit on me.  When I ran into him I didn’t know he was Po.  I told Lil Pop I hear Po be with him and I’m trying to smash him so let me know who Po is.  Pop said, ‘Why?’  I said he told this broad he was putting a hit on me.  Pop said, ‘That bitch lied, if Po said that I would have smashed him.’  We were in the East Side Club, so then Pop said this is Po and Po begged me and said he never said that.  So Pop got the girl for lying.”

Alpo’s story of how he met Silk was a lot different.  And, as one might expect, cast Alpo as a righteous dude.  Alpo’s version of  the story – as reported by Seth Ferranti in Street Legends – went like this.  “Through Pop, a young wild 15-year old coming out of Southeast D.C., killing anything moving I met the cat Wayne Perry, who at that time had the town locked on fear and was putting his murder game down.  The kid Wayne wound up going to jail for a murder and no one was trying to get him out.  The people he thought were going to get him out and come up with the money never came up with it.”  Alpo saw an opening and took it.  He bailed Silk out of jail.  According to Alpo, Silk was so grateful he decided to pay Alpo back by handling security for Alpo’s drug business.

Both stories sounded a little like fantasy.  Alpo was a smooth operator and a smooth talker, and Silk had a rep to maintain.  So they both embellished freely.       

Whatever the truth was Alpo and Silk hooked up.  Silk supplied the muscle.  Alpo provided the drugs.  The Martinez Organization was the name of the gang.  They quickly established themselves as the best team around.  Before long, Alpo was moving 30 kilos of coke per day.  The money rolled in, while the bodies hit the floor.  Silk was killing people left, right and center.  He and his crew of killers were taking care of business.  The result was that Alpo had a ghetto pass.  He could go anywhere at anytime and not worry, because no one in Chocolate City wanted to mess with Silk.  Everyone knew that if they jacked with Alpo, Silk, like a hobgoblin, would show up and wreak havoc.

Alpo was swimming in money, living the high life.  Cars, women, jewelry, a penthouse apartment, Alpo had it all.  And he took care of Silk and his crew.  Silk rode around in a 560 Mercedes Benz, wearing Versace clothing.  Everyone was happy.  Alpo was happy because he was getting rich and getting fat.  Silk was happy because he got to do what he liked to do best – terrorize and kill.

Then everything changed.

The feds arrested Alpo on November 6, 199l.  They hit him with a smorgasbord of drug charges, along with murder and conspiracy to commit to murder.  Then they tossed him into the D.C. jail, where a lot of Alpo’s enemies were awaiting trial.  None of who would have grieved if Alpo woke up dead.   Luckily for Alpo, Silk’s rep kept him safe even in jail.  For Silk put out the word through the grapevine that anyone who touched Alpo would not live to get out of jail.

Even so, Alpo was scared to death.  The Washington Post reported that when Alpo made his first appearance in court, “He sniffed loudly as tears welled up in his eyes.”

To make matters worse, the feds turned up the heat on Alpo.  They decided to ask for the death penalty.  And if they didn’t get it, they told Alpo they’d nail him with life in prison without parole. 

Alpo’s defense attorney – who got 80 grand as a retainer fee – told him things didn’t look good.  He advised Alpo to make a deal.  If Alpo gave the feds Silk, suggested his attorney, the feds would cut Alpo some slack. 

In his interview with Don Diva, Silk said that the feds used Alpo to get to him.  He was the real target.  The feds wanted Silk, but because of his rep no one would talk.  Anyone foolish enough to snitch was as good as dead.  So the feds put pressure on Alpo, hoping that eventually he’d break and squeal on Silk.

Whether or not that was the truth, Alpo decided to make a deal.  Alpo told the feds that Silk had killed Garrett ‘Gary’ Terrell.  It happened like this.  Alpo and Terrell had been putting together a major drug deal involving $6 million worth of cocaine.  One hundred kilos of coke.  Alpo was going to pop for $1.5 million, while Terrell popped for $500,000.  The other $4 million would be paid after they sold the coke.  Only Terrell was setting Alpo up.  Terrell planned to kill Alpo and walk off with Alpo’s $1.5 million and all the coke.  Easy money, except for the fact that Silk found out about the double-cross before it happened.  Silk killed Terrell.  Shot him seven times in the head, then dumped his naked body in Rock Creek Park.

Alpo also told the feds that Silk had murdered a woman named Evelyn Carter.  Carter was a hooker who had been cooperating with a police investigation of Silk.  The police were trying to connect Silk to the murder of a drug dealer named Michael ‘Fray’ Salters.  And Evelyn Carter could connect the dots.  To make sure Carter couldn’t testify, Silk killed her.  He stabbed her in the face, then shot her five times.