Buddha: The biggest mistake I ever made was taking a bag of heroin and snorting it. Best high in the world. Best high in the world. I could never kick it. It was a long road.

BW: So you never shot it?

Buddha: To me the needle is death. Everybody I seen that use the needle look like they have AIDS and was dying. There's people [who I know] that it takes them 20 minutes to find a vein. They have to go in they pussy or they nuts. They tell me, "Buddha, this is serious. I been shooting over 30 years and I don't have any veins left. "

BW: When did you get started? Were you young?

Buddha: I started selling drugs at the age of 12. 

BW: 12 is young to start slingin'. What made you get started?

Buddha: I lived in Washington Heights in NYC, the drug capitol of the world. I'm Dominican and Haitian and my father's black. My father was a Black Panther man. He did 23 years in San Quentin. He used to always talk about building community, building community. All white people is devils. See the horns? Run from. Kill em'. This is how he brainwashed me when I was younger. 

He was Muslim and forced me to be Muslim. I was his only son. I had nine sisters so either you do what the fuck I say or put on a dress mother fucker. That's how my father was. 

What changed my life is my mother and father separating. My mom was a bank teller and she wasn't making that much money. So I could walk around the corner and make $500 real quick and go back in the house and give my sisters money. "Go buy something, don't tell mommy." Next thing I know, I start bagging up crack. 

I start messing with this Dominican/Columbian girl. I get her pregnant. Her father's a big kingpin in the Dominican Republic. I'm 14 years old. It was a curse and a blessing at the same time. 

BW: What'd you do?

Buddha: I married her [laughs]. Got married at 15. She was five years older than me. I looked 18 when I was 15. I got a car, I'm doing construction, I'm selling drugs. Her father gave me the keys to the heroin, the coke. From 15-19 [I was ballin']. I was making $80,000 a year. 

Then I got caught in a conspiracy [charge]. And... honestly I shot two people in the face. I was young and I was really hotheaded. Always...

It's like I tell the youth, What y'all doin' it could be a blessing and it can be a curse. It's a blessing now, you enjoying life. You get everything. You get to buy this and buy that, but when that curse comes... and the judge say 32 years and you 19 years old... 

LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) is made up of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are speaking out about the failures of our existing drug policies. Those policies have failed, and continue to fail, to effectively address the problems of drug abuse, especially the problems of juvenile drug use, the problems of addiction, and the problems of crime created by criminal control of illegal drug sales.