U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

We Deliver: The Gentrification of Drug Markets on Manhattan's Lower East Side (Video)

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2002
0 pages
This videotape presents a study on the gentrification of drug markets in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The study was a 2 year evaluation of the social and technical organization of drug markets in a section of Manhattan. Ethnographic observation and interviews were conducted with 73 drug dealers and 93 drug users. Half of the sample was white; the remainder were Hispanic, African-American, or mixed race. The majority of the dealers were male and none were under 18 years of age. All types of retail drugs were studied. One of the main findings was that the location of sales of drugs had gone from the street to inside private homes. Technology plays a large part in sales, with the use of cell phones, pagers, and walkie-talkies. There is an increasing use of computers for record-keeping purposes. The three different types of social organization of distribution are freelance, socially bonded business, and corporate style. The area known as the East Village is now a middle- to upper-class area where drugs, mostly marijuana, are being delivered to private homes. At the beginning of the study in January 1999, the major style of drug distribution was corporate or street marketing. By the end of the study in January 2001, home delivery had taken over as the main delivery system of drugs. Half of all drug arrests were for smoking marijuana in public. There is growth of secondary markets, or personal networks or contacts, in which the agent is for the consumer, not the distributor. There is also a “franchise” system, where dealers formally associated with corporate organizations build their own clientele. The extension of credit in the drug business is characteristic of drug transactions now, especially in wholesale. There is an intense degree of trust that is reflected in the current low levels of violence. The way to deal with bad credit is to shun or shut users off. There is an absence of firearms due to the mandatory 1 year minimum sentence in New York for carrying firearms. This is also due to the elimination of “turf” battles. Drug robbery of delivery service dealers at the end of the night when the dealer is carrying large amounts of cash is not uncommon.


No download available