A Drug Kingpin's Hot-Selling Story

Edmond lived lavishly on money from cocaine deals.
Edmond lived lavishly on money from cocaine deals. (Www.may3rdfilms.com)
By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 22, 2005

When he was sent to prison for the rest of his life, cocaine kingpin Rayful Edmond III had a message for just about anyone who would listen: He'd be back.

It has taken him almost 16 years, longer than he probably hoped, but Edmond has made good on his vow. Just like old times, his name is once again all over town, in print and on the air.

Washington, it seems, can't get enough of the legendary gangster, which is why the story of Edmond's life, recounted in a new DVD docudrama, has been selling by the thousands since its release in Washington last week.

From Mad T Music Box on 14th Street NW to Kemp Mill Music in Marlow Heights, the DVD has been the hot entertainment item for the past 10 days in many corners of the District and Maryland.

Edmond is to Washington what John Gotti was to New York, an almost mythic figure whose fearless, flashy style fascinated even those who condemned him and the way he amassed his fortune.

"There are a lot of people that remember the Rayful Edmond story," said Carlton Tucker, owner of Mad T.

But unlike similar stories, Edmond's is one that has been little told. No book was ever written, and before now, no film was produced.

Yet his life, and the spectacular trial that changed it, were like nothing the city had ever seen, and 27-year-old director Kirk Fraser set out to chronicle it all in an entertaining but cautionary tale.

Until his arrest at age 24 in 1989, Edmond had controlled a sizable share of the drug trade in the District, bringing in millions of dollars of Colombian cocaine each week from Los Angeles. The city's streets were awash in cocaine, and Edmond was flush with cash. He spent lavishly on cars and clothing and clubbing. He would drop thousands of dollars in boutiques or nightspots without a second thought. Until he was done in by two of his closest associates.

Put on trial under unprecedented security, it was a daily spectacle. Jailed not in the District but at Quantico Marine Base, Edmond was flown to court each day by helicopter, his comings and goings broadcast on the evening news. For the first time in the city's history, the jurors were kept anonymous and worked from behind bulletproof glass.

The legend has endured among many who lived through those times, who say that good or bad, few people have had the impact on the city that Rayful Edmond did.

"He's a historic icon," Mark Williams, a 34-year-old federal government worker, said as he left Kemp Mill earlier this week after purchasing "The Life of Rayful Edmond: The Rise and Fall, Vol. I." "I remember in the '80s hearing the name, but I never really knew his whole story."

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