Posted in Issues, Mental Health

Today in Journalism

I read about the drug dealer who was in the witness protection program, then ended up dead. ‘Alpo’ Martínez (aka Abraham Rodriquez, yes, with a q, at least according to the local paper) lived in Lewiston, ME but obviously broke his deal with the feds when he returned to Harlem.

The NY Times article here quotes an old friend saying Martínez was an attention seeker and an adrenaline junkie—a narcissist who loved being known Harlem. This spurred a lot of comments, many of which were in the nature vs nurture arena with a firm subset of the ‘nature’ camp agreeing with the armchair diagnosis of narcissist personality disorder and/or an addiction to “the fast lane” (ostensibly not a feature of life in Lewiston).

Firmly down the rabbit hole of comments, I went here (Article) to read what the Lewiston paper said at the time of Martinez’s killing.

The short of it is that there were some key elements in the Lewiston article that are not in the NY Times article. The Lewiston article talks about family connections that may have played a part in Martínez’s return to Harlem. I’m not going to spill the beans any more than that here, but reading those articles back-to-back demonstrates to me that anyone’s life described in short shrift is sure to leave out major points, especially if the short shrift is trying to illustrate points in the way the NY Times article seems to do.

Reading both articles also demonstrated that reading the NY Times was almost a complete waste of time, but that effort was saved by commenter Brinkwell of Washington, D.C. who pointed to the article in the Lewiston paper.

Now I am going to spill the beans (what I think are the beans, anyway). If you haven’t read the articles and want to do so, now is the time. First, we don’t know the whole story—that’s a given. So here’s my take:

Alpo Martinez was a well-known drug dealer who thought well enough of himself that he attempted to expand his business to Washington, D.C. (This was before The Wire would have made it clear to him to stay in Harlem.) When his effort crashed and burned, he made a deal with the feds. He served his time (14 years). He was in his late 40’s when he got out.

Life was okay in Lewiston, Maine and now he had his young buddy Nic to hang out with. But home is six hours down the road and family is there—mom, sister, kids and no doubt others. I’m not convinced that Alpo wanted to go back to dealing even though the NY Times article mentions heroin packets that were ostensibly tossed out the window of the truck he was driving right before he was shot. Besides – Dealers throw the goods out the window when they are being chased by police, not by competitors.