Pill City

Kevin Deutsch

09 February 2017
288 pages


Meet Brick and Wax, two bright eighteen-year-olds looking for a route out of poverty. When Baltimore was engulfed in riots in 2015 they helped loot pharmacies, stealing over $100 million worth of opiates. The plan: to use their gang connections and programming skills to set up a high tech drug delivery service. The result: the teens became America's youngest drug lords, in the process sparking bloody gang warfare and a nationwide wave of addiction and murder. Now mixing in deadly circles, Brick and Wax soon found their own lives were on the line . . .

As gripping and compulsive as a thriller, Pill City takes us into the heat of the action as Brick and Wax outwit the FBI and DEA, gang members like Damage and Lyric live and die by their own brutal code, the cops battle to stop the carnage, and a high-school coach risks a bullet to get addicts into rehab. Even today the teens' identity has not been uncovered, and one is prospering in Silicon Valley. Award-winning criminal justice reporter Kevin Deutsch has interviewed all the key players and interweaves their stories to tell a gritty, hard-hitting story of survival in the Baltimore underworld.

America's urban crisis has never been more alive, more shocking, than in Pill City. Reminiscent of HBO's The Wire, Kevin Deutsch's stunning investigation show how a $100 million fortune in opiates - heroin and pills - was stolen during the 2015 Baltimore riots following the death of Freddie Gray and then spread and sold illegally across the nation,compounding one tragedy with another. With this harrowing account from the encrypted Dark Web and our bloody streets, Kevin Deutsch proves himself among today's most insightful and eloquent observers of criminal life in the United States.
An astonishing feat of reportage, Pill City is an almost unbelievable tale and journalist Kevin Deutsch tells it masterfully. His unflinching look at the choices two brilliant young men from Baltimore make in search of their American Dream goes behind the headlines and illuminates the heartbreaking complexity of today's opioid epidemic. A shocking, important book.
Pill City is in the best tradition of true-crime writing. It belongs on your shelf next to the books of David Simon and Sebastian Junger.