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Dec. 18, 2009
Peter Rollack’s Sex, Money, Murder gang found its niche in running drugs from the projects of the Bronx to North Carolina in the early 1990s. By age 19, "Pistol Pete" was a millionaire and had thousands of "soldiers" in new chapters in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Patterson, Trenton and Philadelphia. He thought nothing of murdering slow payers or snitches, particularly snitches. Snitches would do him in at age 24.
Soundview is a low-income residential neighborhood located in the south central section of the borough of the Bronx in New York City. The low-income public housing development in Soundview is managed by the New York City Housing Authority. Soundview has a population of 80,000 people, primarily African-American and Hispanic. Most of these people live below the poverty line and receive public assistance, including AFDC, Home Relief, Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.
In short, Soundview is hell on earth. Poverty, disease, drugs, and violence is a way of life. There’s no hope and only a few find a way out.
During the 1960s, youth gangs became part and parcel of the landscape. The first and most famous gang was The Black Spades, originating in the Bronxdale Houses. The Black Spades rapidly achieved renown and dominated the area, controlling every housing project in the neighborhood. Through sheer brutality, the Black Spades became the most feared gang in New York City.
Sex, Money, Murder (SMM) came on the scene in 1987. SMM was one of the sets (gangs) of the New York Gang Alliance. Because of an ongoing power struggle, where each gang wanted to be number one, SMM flipped. They left the NYG Alliance and became a sanctioned set of the Bloods. The various sets of the Bloods had decided it was in their interests to come together as the East Coast United Blood Nation (UBN). This was in 1993.
At this time, Peter Rollack was the unchallenged leader of Sex, Money, Murder. Because of his tendency to shoot first and ask questions later, Rollack was nicknamed Pistol Pete. And usually, Pistol Pete didn’t bother with the questions.
Under Pistol Pete’s generalship SMM spread like a cancer to other locations, according to The Times of Trenton, New Jersey. SMM found willing recruits in the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, and East New York. In no time at all, SMM soldiers numbered in the hundreds. So eager were black youths to join SMM that the gang soon had lines (local chapters) in Trenton, Newark, and Camden, New Jersey, with others in Philadelphia and Baltimore. By 1994, SMM’s soldiers numbered in the thousands. Each soldier was indoctrinated, swore everlasting allegiance, and was heavily armed.
Some of the lines included:
The Viewside Line, out of The Bronx Projects.
The Hillside Line, out of the Castle Hill Projects in The Bronx.
Killerville, out of the Van Dyke Projects in Brownsville and Brooklyn.
Murderville, in Paterson
The Omega Line, from Jersey City
Murder City Mafia, from Philadelphia.
Paper Boys, from Trenton.
Slug Line, also from Philadelphia.
Each one of these lines, operating under the leadership of Peter Rollack, proudly traced their Blood roots and was "right," which meant they banged correctly. Correct banging involved murder, robbery, heroin and cocaine use, possession and distribution; and, of course, the carrying and use of firearms.
By the time he was 24 years old, Peter Rollack had personally committed four murders, and ordered two other murders, which took place in the Bronx. The Bronx murders occurred on Thanksgiving Day in 1997.
From his prison cell in North Carolina, where he was waiting to face federal narcotics charges, Peter Rollack had ordered the Thanksgiving Day massacre, which resulted in the deaths of two SMM members who were scheduled to testify against Rollack. According to Rollack, as quoted by Seth Ferranti in Street Legends, "all snitches got to die."
The reason "Pistol Pete" was imprisoned in North Carolina went like this. In the early 1990’s, Pistol Pete was really building a rep for himself. SMM was going strong, making noise, getting noticed. Naturally, other heavy-hitters were attracted to his crew. One of those who joined up with Pistol Pete and SMM was Savon Codd aka "Yaro Pack," who had a rep as a money man who could move a lot of weight. "Moving weight" was gang slang for smuggling, distributing and selling drugs. When Yaro Pack joined SMM, things really started happening. Almost overnight, SMM became major distributors of cocaine and crack cocaine. [Author’s note: much of the information in this article and the accompanying quotes came from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit: U.S.A vs. Peter Rollack (CR-96-168), No. 98-4272.]
Then in 1994, Yaro Pack and his associate David Gonzales huddled with Pistol Pete in the Bronx. Gonzales informed Pistol Pete they could make a lot of money transporting cocaine down to North Carolina. The demand for cocaine in North Carolina was enormous. All they had to do was move the coke down south. So Pistol Pete and his SMM crew began making trips to North Carolina in a leased Nissan Quest, which was packed to the gills with drugs. The trips were very, very lucrative. And Pistol Pete and his crew became richer than rock stars. It was bling-bling city – gold necklaces, diamond rings, Rolex watches. The more coke they moved, the richer they got.
Pretty soon, SMM was transporting huge amounts of narcotics up and down the East Coast. Pistol Pete’s drug empire was growing larger everyday. He was the McDonald’s of drugs. SMM was everywhere. And if they weren’t there, they soon would be.
By the summer of 1994, SMM had become major players. They were an event all by themselves. In Street Legends, Seth Ferranti related that Rock, who was a friend of Pete’s back in the day, said, "When he was out there, dude was a millionaire when he was 19."
Pistol Pete wasn’t only swift to shoot; he was also a quick-draw thinker. Sex, Money, Murder’s business was transportation intensive, meaning it depended on cars to get the coke where it needed to be. Which gave Pete an idea. He took the letters SMM and added a C – SMMC. Then he formed a corporation that went by those four letters. SMMC, Inc. was a front company used to lease a fleet of luxury cars from a leasing company in Pittsburgh. SMMC, Inc. quickly became the leasing company’s bread and butter. The leasing company made it possible for SMMC to obtain cars by means of prepaid leases. Some of the gang members would pay for their leases up front, which made everyone happy, because when a lease was prepaid there were no background or credit checks to worry about. Simply drop a bundle of cash and drive the cars off the lot. Besides that, the leasing company camouflaged outright purchases of vehicles made by other members of the gang. By means of forged paperwork, the leasing company made it look like these paid for cars had also been leased.
Whether the cars were leased or purchased outright, they all had stash boxes (secret, invisible compartments), which were used to transport drugs, money and guns. Many of the leased vehicles were minivans, which were easily modified with stash boxes, and didn’t attract much attention because they were prevalent and usually driven by law-abiding family-types. But boys being boys, SMM also had a number of Hummers, Mercedes and BMWs just for fun.
According to Seth Ferranti in his book Street Legends, one former SMM member said, "When Sex, Money and Murder rolled, they rolled in style. They were doing it for sure. Their shit was bubbling."
Then it all went to hell.
Yaro Pack, Gonzales, Pistol Pete and a fourth SMM member called Leadpipe left New York in a leased minivan, which carried Pennsylvania license plates. It also carried ten kilograms of coke, both powder and crack. When the van got to Pittsburgh, they delivered six kilograms of coke and collected payment, which was $22,000 per kilo. Which worked out to $132,000. Then they drove to Lumberton, where they picked up money owed for previous deliveries. After taking care of business in Lumberton, they headed for Rockingham, where they were to pick up $90,000 from a dude named Darius Covington.
Darius Covington was a small-time drug pusher who was trying to go big-time. Only things weren’t going as planned. Darius had a problem. He didn’t have the whole 90-grand. He only had part of it. Pistol Pete was aware of Darius’s problem. But Pete wasn’t buying it. Pistol Pete didn’t do installment plans. According to later testimony by Darius, Pete’s motto was "get mine or be mine." Darius needed to pay up or he needed to die.
When the van pulled up to Darius’s favorite haunt, which was a broken-down billiard parlor, Pistol Pete tapped a pistol against his own forehead and told his crew he was going to enter the building and kill Darius.
Gonzales wasn’t as hardcore as Pistol Pete. Pistol Pete was all about rep, respect and revenge. Gonzales believed in granting grace periods, because he was in it for the money. And it was hard to collect money from a dead man. Corpses also made a mess and attracted cops. So Gonzales made a short, passionate plea to give Darius more time to come up with the money. In the end, Pistol Pete agreed to a 24-hour stay of execution. Darius had one more day to get the money.
Gonzales got out of the van and went inside, where he told Darius the facts of life, according to the Gospel of Pistol Pete. Gonzales informed Darius that he had 24 hours to get the money. The SMM gangbangers had business matters to take care of in nearby Charlotte. They would return the following day to pick up their money. If Darius didn’t have the money, his next transaction would be with Pistol Pete.
Back in the van, Gonzales headed the vehicle toward Charlotte, where the four gangbangers planned on attending a concert, then making a delivery. There were still two kilos of coke and some guns in one of the two stash boxes of the van.
After the concert, they drove to Wilmington, North Carolina, where they made another delivery of cocaine. They crashed for a few hours, then headed back toward Rockingham to meet up with Darius.
On October 21, 1994, as they approached the city of Rockingham, Gonzales stopped the van at a pay phone so he could make arrangements for the meeting place. Gonzales agreed to meet Darius at a local Burger King.
When they got to the Burger King the gangbangers went inside, ordered food and sat down to eat while they waited to collect their money. Darius never showed. And he didn’t show because while he had been on the phone with Gonzales, he had told Gonzales he didn’t have the money. Gonzales had suggested he leave town if he didn’t want to learn why Peter Rollack was nicknamed "Pistol Pete." These details came out later, when Darius testified in court against Pistol Pete.
Not showing was not cool. As far as Pistol Pete was concerned, Darius was as good as dead. Pistol Pete didn’t let anybody get over on him.
Gonzales did his best to defuse the volatile situation. He told Pete the reason that Darius had flaked was simply because Darius was scared to death. Darius was minor-league and couldn’t take the heat. Pistol Pete’s reputation was notorious. Gonzales figured Darius was already gone, probably down in Florida hiding out. Gonzales then tried to persuade Pistol Pete to go back to New York. Gonzales volunteered to hang around and see if he couldn’t get a line on Darius. If he could, then maybe he could collect the money.
Pistol Pete wasn’t having any of it. The way Pete figured it, if anyone who owed him money wanted to keep on living, they needed to come across with the money. Pete said, "Ain’t nobody going to live in this world who owe me money." This quote came directly from U.S.A vs. Rollack, (CR-96-168), No. 98-4272.
Gonzales didn’t know what to do. He tried to placate Pistol Pete, but it was like talking to a wall. Pete wasn’t listening. Pistol Pete believed in taking care of business. His rep was at stake.
Pistol Pete ordered Gonzales to show him where Darius lived. Pete told Gonzales he wasn’t fucking around. This was serious business. Pistol Pete informed Gonzales that he was going to murder Darius’ wife and kids.
While Gonzales stalled, looking for a way out, the shit hit the fan. A bunch of cops popped up like Jacks-in-a-Box and proceeded to detain the gangbangers.
An anonymous informant had tipped the police that a burgundy Nissan Quest, with Pennsylvania license plates, carrying four men, was transporting illegal narcotics into North Carolina. The anonymous informant, of course, was Darius Covington, who had decided it was better to be a live snitch than become a dead drug pusher.
The police officers escorted the gangbangers out of Burger King to the burgundy Nissan Quest in the parking lot and asked permission to search the van. Yaro Pack nodded, handing over the keys. He also signed a written consent to search the van.
While two officers searched the van, other officers questioned the gangbangers, who gave phony names. Yaro Pack told the police officers that his name was Corey Hines. Gonzales gave his name as David Richards, and Pistol Pete identified himself as Nathaniel Tucker. Leadpipe said his name was John Adams.
The two cops searching the van couldn’t find anything. But they didn’t give up. They called for help, requesting drug detection canines. When the drug-sniffing dogs arrived, they quickly picked up the smell of coke and alerted the officers that there were drugs somewhere in the van. The cops immediately called for a tow truck and had the minivan taken to a police garage. They also got a search warrant.
With help of a Nissan mechanic, whom they borrowed from a local car dealership, the cops proceeded to take the van apart piece by piece. The SMM gangbangers stood nearby, watching. Beneath the front seats of the van, the cops located one of the van’s two stash boxes. Inside the stash box, they found nothing. Undeterred, the cops continued dismantling the van.
The existence of the empty stash box gave the police grounds to seize the vehicle.
The Sex, Money, Murder crew were transported to the local police station, where they were asked to verify their identifications. The gangbangers flashed fake IDs that matched the aliases they had already given. Since the police had nothing to hold them for, they were not arrested. A short time later, Pistol Pete and his crew were released. But their van had been impounded and was still being searched. Which meant they had no wheels and very little money. The bulk of their money was in the second stash box in the van.
Yaro Pack wanted to get out of town as fast as possible, because he knew that when the cops discovered the other stash box – which contained guns, coke and money – the game was over. He was getting distinctly bad vibrations from their situation. Yaro told Pistol Pete what he thought – they should blow outta town and head over to Charlotte, where they could hop a plane back to New York.
Once again, Pistol Pete wasn’t having any of it. He wanted his van back and the money, guns and coke that were in it.
Yaro Pack stood his ground. In his opinion, they had no choice but to leave. And right now, because when the police discovered the contraband in the stash box, the gangbangers would be back in jail in a New York minute.
Pistol Pete still wasn’t having any of it. He thought the police were a bunch of cider squeezing hillbillies, who couldn’t find anything. The stuff in the van was too valuable to just leave it.
Pistol Pete was wrong. Even as he and Yaro Pack were arguing, the police found the second stash box. This one wasn’t empty. It contained the guns and coke and a pile of money.
The SMM gangbangers walked to a pay phone and made a collect call to New York, informing their members back home of their predicament. While they were on the phone, the police arrived and arrested them. Their bail was set high. The gangbangers made their phone calls and lingered in jail, waiting to be redeemed.
A few days later, George Wallace, who was a friend of Pistol Pete’s, and Yaro Pack’s cousin, arrived with bail money. Once they were released, the gangbangers got out of town as fast as possible. There was no way they were hanging around this Podunk town to face the music. Sooner or later the police would match their prints to their real names. Which meant their problems would escalate geometrically.
Pistol Pete decided not to take any more risks. He stopped taking trips. Instead, he stayed in New York and ran his empire from there, telling his crew where to go and what to do.
Pete’s tendency to resolve business disputes with his pistol caught up with him in late 1995. The details of the story came to light in a series of articles in The New York Times, which were published during the 2000 trial of Pistol Pete.
The Times recounted how Karlton Hines, who was a basketball star at Syracuse University, owed Pete some money for drugs. Karlton decided not to pay what he owed. It was a bad choice. One day, Pete spotted Karlton standing outside a stereo shop on Boston Road. Karlton was with a friend of his named Carlos Mestre. They were waiting while Karlton had a new stereo installed in his car. Pistol Pete opened fire at the two men, killing Karlton and wounding Carlos. Pete didn’t mean to hit Carlos. But Pete’s policy was to spray lead everywhere, which meant Carlos got hit because he associated with the wrong people.
Two months later, Pistol Pete finished the job on Carlos Mestre. Pete had nothing against Carlos personally, but Carlos’ status had changed. Now he was a witness to the murder of Karlton Hines. Which meant Carlos had to die. As Carlos walked out of a Bronx hip-hop store called Jew Man, Pistol Pete gunned him down.
The police got a tip and arrested Pete for murder a few days later. The tip came from David Gonzales, Pete’s old drug running buddy, who was hacked off at Pete because Pete had been shaking Gonzales down for money. When he was arrested, as usual, Pete had a gun on him. Possession of a gun demanded a mandatory eight-month jail sentence, which Pete served at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility. When the eight months were up, his mother bailed him out so he could walk free while he awaited trial for the murder charge.
Because there were no witnesses to the murder of Carlos Mestre, Pistol Pete was acquitted of the murder charge. However, instead of walking out of court a free man, Pete was remanded to custody. Gonzales had fixed Pete’s wagon but good. While Pete was sitting through his murder trial, Gonzales had told the feds about Pete’s activities in North Carolina, back in 1994. After Pete beat the murder rap, a federal narcotics indictment out of the Western District of North Carolina was waiting for him. The North Carolina police – who Pete thought were hillbillies – indicted Pistol Pete for the guns, coke and money they had found in the stash box of the van.
Pistol Pete was moved to the Charlotte-Mecklenberg County Jail in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he would be held until his next trial began.
It was 1996. Pistol Pete was 23 years old.
Pistol Pete kept up a good front. He had a rep to live up to, so he pretended like he didn’t care. According to Seth Ferranti in his book Street Legends, Pistol Pete said, "A true player will accept the hand he is dealt simply because he did not live a lie."
In truth, Pistol Pete’s whole life was a lie, because life isn’t a game of poker. Pistol Pete wasn’t a player. He was a murderer. And murder isn’t a game played for fun. It’s dead serious. And the stakes were higher than Pete ever imagined.
The feds went all out in their case against Peter Rollack. They hit him with the RICO Act, charging him with drug trafficking, conspiracy to distribute drugs, and ongoing conspiracy. The charges portrayed Pistol Pete as an interstate high-profile drug trafficker, who was the leader of a Bloods gang involved in drug smuggling and murder. The charges were factual. Pistol Pete was all that and more.
During the trial, it came out that Darius Covington was an informant for the Rockingham Police Department. Covington testified that he had been a paid informant for years, and that he had purchased drugs from Peter Rollack, watching as Rollack removed the drugs from a secret compartment in the Nissan van.
The jury was informed that after impounding the van, the Rockingham Police Department had thoroughly searched the vehicle. The search process had involved completely dismantling the van. When the police finally opened the second stash box, they discovered unregistered guns, two kilos of cocaine and $250,000 in cash.
Yaro Pack and David Gonzales also testified for the prosecution. Both men testified that Pete accompanied them on the trip to North Carolina. And that the primary purpose of the trip was to deliver drugs and pick up money due for past deliveries of drugs. Yaro Pack stated that Pete acted as the group’s enforcer. In return for their testimony, both men received immunity. As soon as the trial concluded, Pack and Gonzales entered WITSEC, the federal witness protection program. This was necessary to protect their lives. During the trial, Pistol Pete had put out death contracts on both men. He had written letters in Bloods code from his prison cell. The letters ordered the members of Sex, Money, Murder to kill Yaro Pack and David Gonzales. According to Pete, they were snitches and deserved to die.
One of Pistol Pete’s letters ordered SMM members to kill David "Twin" Mullins and his twin brother Damon Mullins, along with Efrain Solar. Pete believed the twin brothers and Solar posed a problem. They could testify against him. Even if they didn’t, the possibility was enough to require their deaths. Sex, Money, Murder carried out the order from their boss. They killed David "Twin" Mullins and Efrain Solar. However, the connection between the letter and the murders was not made until after Pistol Pete’s trial.
As the trial progressed, Pete’s letters were introduced as evidence. Pursuant to a federal search warrant, all Pete’s mail had been intercepted, examined, copied, and then allowed out through the mail. A handwriting analyst testified that the letters had been written by Peter Rollack. The letters validated the testimony of the government witnesses and indicated Pete’s active participation in an ongoing conspiracy.
In his book Street Legends, Seth Ferranti quoted an SMM member, who said, "The letters that they got fucked Pistol Pete up. A lot of shit rode on the weight of those letters."
On January 9, 1998, the jury found Peter Rollack guilty of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and cocaine base, and of knowingly using and carrying a firearm, and of aiding and abetting such conduct in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Pistol Pete was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
One month later, on February 10, 1998, the headline of The New York Times read: "Imprisoned Gang Leader Ordered Killings at Neighborhood Football Game, U.S. Attorney Says."
On November 27, 1997, 30 people from the Soundview and Castle Hill projects were enjoying a game of touch football in a local park. A group of men, allegedly SMM gangbangers, swaggered into the park. Pulling weapons, they opened fire. Dozens of shots rang out. Then the gangbangers left, reloading their weapons as they walked away.
Five blood-soaked bodies lay on the ground. David "Twin" Mullins and Efrain Solar were dead. Three other people were seriously wounded. Mullins and Solar had been killed to prevent them from potentially testifying against Pistol Pete in his federal trial in North Carolina.
Sex, Money, Murder members Robinson "Mac 11" Lazala and Jose Rodriguez were arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder. As the feds investigated the case, they discovered other murders SMM had allegedly perpetrated. The emerging pattern of evidence pointed directly back to Pistol Pete. The pattern included racketeer activity, drug sales, robberies, acts of intimidation, acts of violence and of murder.
In February 1998, Pistol Pete and 10 other SMM members were indicted for nine murders and for trafficking in cocaine and crack in Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina. A separate indictment against Pistol Pete charged him with narcotics trafficking, RICO violations, five actual murders, two conspiracies to commit murder, witness tampering and with committing these acts for the purpose of maintaining or increasing his racketeering enterprises. According to an article in The New York Times (Feb. 10, 1998) the witness tampering charge referred to the murders of David "Twin" Mullins and Efrain Solar.
The feds were asking for the death penalty against Peter Rollack.
And the prosecutors had plenty of witnesses lined up, including Yaro Pack and David Gonzales, along with SMM members Brian Boyd and Emilo Romero.
According to court transcripts, Pistol Pete’s attorney argued that "the witnesses are willing to admit anything and say anything. If they don’t, they will go to jail for a very long time. The government’s case rests solely on the uncorroborated testimony of cooperating witnesses."
The jury didn’t buy the attorney’s argument.
The feds case looked like a slam-dunk. Pistol Pete must have thought so, too, because he agreed to a plea bargain. Pete pled guilty to federal racketeering and the murders of six people. In return, the feds agreed not to seek the death penalty.
To this day, Pistol Pete maintains that the only reason he pled guilty was because the feds threatened to incarcerate his mother for receiving drug money. However, in light of the murders of Karlton Hines and Carlos Mestre, along with the letters Pistol Pete wrote ordering the Thanksgiving Day Murders, Pete’s assertion rings hollow. Pistol Pete was a drug lord and a ruthless killer.
In 2000, Peter Rollack, age 27, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of six people and drug trafficking in three states.
If Rollack had not pled guilty, he would have most likely been sentenced to death. In addition to life in prison, the judge also sentenced Rollack to an additional 105 years in prison. As reported in The New York Times (November 9, 2000) the conditions of his sentence were draconian. He was to be placed in special restrictive confinement and prohibited from communication or receiving visits from anyone other than his lawyers or his family members. And even these individuals had to be pre-approved by the court and the prison.
Today, Peter Rollack is incarcerated at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
Peter Rollack attained legendary status during his brief career. Even though SMM flipped from the NYG Alliance, the Alliance still throws up the No. 7 hand sign (gun) in his honor. And SMM uses the number code 252 or 252% to represent 25 years to life in prison – in homage to the life sentence that Pistol Pete is serving.
SMM has extended its reach into the Hip Hop world. Various rappers are known members of SMM. These rappers include Hocus, S-ONE, Lord Tariq, Peter Gunz, Took and Hussein Fatal of The Outlawz.
Today, in 2009, SMM members refer to themselves in verbal shorthand as "Murder Gang" or as "Blazing Billy," because like Billy the Kid, when it comes down to it, they blaze away with their guns.
A new Pistol Pete may be in the making.
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