A Pelecanos Question

I love George Pelecanos.  He writes about Petworth, Columbia Heights, and Park View with love and grit.  In his latest Drama City on page 43 he writes:  “Dealers all over the city did the same thing, [Ed. note: set up shops to launder drug money], beauty and nail parlors, variety stores, an such.  White dealers, moving cocaine, mostly, did it too, at those antique shops in Adams Morgan and at boutiques on the western edge of the new Shaw.”  I know this is a work of fiction but do you really think the antique shops in Adams Morgan are fronts for laundering money?

6 Comment

  • He writes about Brightwood too – and Mt Pleasant (where he grew up, on Irving St.)

    I don’t think the antique shops are fronts – authorial license is my explanation. There used to be an electronics store there that was busted for money laundering thought (about 18 years ago), and a restaurant in Mt Pleasant, same thing.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised at all. Art galleries in the SF bay area seem to be getting busted all the time for drug dealing. Especially the newer smaller ones that showcase emerging art. There just isn’t much money in it. I don’t know if I’d call it laundering or just an additional revenue stream. You’d figure, also, that much of the drug usage that has historically happened in Adams Morgan and Dupont is gay circuit-club going men that there would be some overlap between the owners of the antique stores and the evening circuit crowds. I knew a club wear store in Gallery Place area back in the early 1990s that sold LSD from behind the counter. Seemed like a decent fit and it helped them pay the rent every month.

  • I too love George Pelecanos, and generally never read popular fiction or crime novels. But his stuff is so excellent. And so much is set a few blocks from my house!!! His details are careful and accurate. He mentions that one of his main characters, Derek Strange, has his office on the same 9th Street block as the Petworth post office. He also mentions the barber shop and Cuzcatleco, though not by name, on the same block. He talks about Salvadoan busboys and Ethiopian parking lot attenders. His is the Washington (and Petworth/Brightwood) that is not Georgetwon, Capitol Hill, Cleveland and Chevy Chase. As for money laubdering from drug profits? Pelecanos doesn’t make this $#%^up, yet this is the first time I’ve herad of such thing.

  • A local beat cop told me about specific retail shops in Petworth that drug boys put down as their place of employment when on parole, suggesting that some of these places exist to launder drug money. Ditto some of the small car dealerships.

    George Pelecanos has spent a lot of time hanging out with cops. You learn a lot from the men and women in blue who spend their days dealing with this side of life.

  • My old landlord ran his rental business out of a furniture store, and I found it very hard to believe that the place could have been profitable (I hardly ever saw anyone walk into the store).

    I don’t think it was a illegal front but I DO think that it may have been used as a tax-shelter.

  • Small businesses make great fronts as they tend to be cash businesses.

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