KENNETH MCGRIFF: (continued)

By Christopher Zoukis

Things changed while Supreme paid his debt to society.  The Dominicans started pushing a new drug onto the streets.  Crack.  Almost overnight, cocaine was out and crack was in as the number one hit. 

Crack was two parts cocaine and one part baking soda mixed with a little bit of water.  Heat it up until the solution separated.  The precipitate was then skimmed off and the cocaine dried.  The resulting cocaine flakes were called crack.   Photo courtesy

When Supreme got out of prison in 1987, he was ready to jump back onto the streets.  He had missed the adrenaline rush of the action and the feeling of power he got from being the Top Dog.  Holding a meeting of the Supreme Team, he re-established his authority and told his crew their goals were to make money and rule the streets.  The Supreme Team hit the road in bulletproof luxury cars and used rooftop lookouts with walkie-talkies to counter the police.  Handbooks on how-to-be a smart criminal were put together and distributed to the Team.

What Supreme didn’t know was that the feds and the Queens Narcotics Squad were keeping tabs on the top members of the Supreme Team.  The Supreme Team’s activities under the violent reign of Prince had attracted cops like ants to a picnic.  Like Big Brother, the feds were watching everything and everybody, waiting for their chance.  The feds even had Supreme’s mother under surveillance.

On November 6, 1987, the feds got their chance. 

Police officers and FBI agents raided known Team hang-outs all over Queens.  Supreme was sitting in a movie theater when it went down.  His beeper went off.  When he found out what was happening, Supreme ordered the dumping of cocaine at all his stash houses.  But he was too late.  Cops and FBI agents were everywhere and they had a head start.  Seizing vast quantities of heroin, cocaine, scales, police scanners, red Supreme jackets, and manuals with titles such as The Silencer Handbook and Point Blank Body Armor, the feds put a clamp on the whole operation.  They arrested Supreme, Prince, and most of the Supreme Team’s honchos.  Supreme was hit with the charge of running a continuing criminal enterprise.  His cousin – Prince – got off easy.  All they hit him with was possession of drugs. 

Supreme wanted to go to trial.  Since his attorney had beaten the system before, he figured he could do it again.  But his attorney advised against it.  This was no sure-thing.  If Supreme lost the trial, he would spend a long, long time in prison.  So Supreme cut a deal.  He pled guilty to one count of running a continuing criminal enterprise.  In return, he received a 12-year sentence.  They shipped Supreme off to the Federal Correctional Institute in Talladega.  Prince was sent to Rikers Island to serve two years.

Ernesto Piniella took over what was left of the Supreme Team.  Piniella took a look around, considered his options and decided the smart thing to do was pull the plug.  So he did.  He fired everybody and told them to go home.

Two years passed.  And in the Spring of 1989, Prince got out of prison.  While in Rikers Island, Prince had been busy, making connections with all sorts of Colombian drug kingpins who were also doing time at Rikers.  The instant he was released, Prince went back into business.  And like the Pied Piper his rats swarmed to him.  His Colombian connections sold him cocaine in bulk.  In no time at all, Prince and the Supreme Team were once again superstars.  Prince’s ego grew as big as a building.  There was no stopping him.

Or so he thought.

A state narcotics charge put Prince back on Rikers for a short spell.  While he was there, he ran the Supreme Team from the prison’s telephone.  Colombian distributors were still supplying the Supreme Team with most of its coke.  But the Supreme Team didn’t feel as if the Colombians respected them.  The Supreme Team was doing all the work, taking all the risks and the Colombians acted as if they were doing the Team a favor.  Smug bastards!  So the Supreme Team decided to make a point.  They planned to kill the Colombians, steal the coke and cash, then find new distributors.  That would teach people to respect them.

Prince gave his Team the go ahead from a phone on Rikers Island.

Things spiraled out of control.  The original plan was to murder two Colombians.  Before it was all over, the Supreme Team obliterated 7 Colombians.  All of whose bodies were hogtied, stuffed in garbage bags and dumped.  Prince and the Supreme Team left a trail of blood behind them.

In 1991, the feds followed the trail of blood right to Prince, who was once more out of prison and back on the streets.  He and three of his lieutenants were arrested and indicted on 14 counts, which included nine murders and cocaine distribution.  They went on trial in February of 1993.  As luck would have it, Supreme was paroled at the same time.  Supreme showed up at the trial wearing black wraparound sunglasses, flanked by two massive bodyguards.  He sat in the gallery of the courtroom and watched the trial.  During the trial Supreme’s name came up repeatedly.  Which meant that even though he wasn’t on trial, Supreme was the star of the show. 

At the conclusion of the trial, Prince received seven concurrent life sentences.  The feds shipped him off to the Federal Correctional Institute in Allenwood.