The Fascinating Story of “White Boy Rick”: Feds Built Him into Drug Kingpin at Age 14, Then Threw Him in Prison for Life

Meet Richard Wershe. To other convicts in the Michigan penal system and the handful of DEA and FBI agents who once employed him as an informant, Wershe is known by the more memorable moniker, White Boy Rick.

Wershe was a baby-faced, blond-haired teenager who grew up in the the middle class fringes of Metro Detroit in the 1980s. Around the time he hit puberty, he transformed into White Boy Rick, a prolific drug dealer and teenage prodigy in the cutthroat and vicious streets of the Motor City. He ranked as high in the public imagination as such colorful Detroit drug heavyweights as the Chambers Brothers, Maserati Rick, the notorious Best Friends. By the time he was 16, he was dating the beautiful black niece of the Mayor of Detriot. White Boy Rick had arrived.

He had also been recruited as one of the DEA’s prized confidential informants two years earlier, when he was 14. According to Wershe, a federal narcotics task force consisting of officers from the Detroit Police Department, the FBI and the DEA pushed him into the role of drug lord and played up his image. “They turned me into an urban legend,” Rick says from a payphone at the Oaks Correctional Facility, near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.

“I was just a kid when the agents pulled me out of high school in the ninth grade and had me out to three in the morning every night. They gave me a fake ID when I was 15 that said I was 21 so I could travel to Vegas and to Miami to do drug deals.” Rick ended his relationship with authorities after serving two years as an informant. Less than a year later, he was arrested for possession with intent to deliver 650 grams of cocaine. He wasn’t even 18.

Wershe was pinched on the same Detroit street where he grew up, carrying the drugs, $25,000 in cash, and driving a shiny new Ford Thunderbird that was registered in his girlfriend’s name. She was five years older than him, married to Eastside drug kingpin Johnny Curry, and, as luck would have it, the niece of Mayor Coleman Young. Authorities later found eight kilos of cocaine that they linked to Wershe. On January 15, 1988, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison under Michigan’s draconian 650 lifer law, which has since been abolished.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.

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