By Rick Pfeiffer
With apologies to Barry Manilow, today I want to tell you a story about “Rico” and it has no connection to the Copacabana.
It does, however, have to deal with drugs and the risky business of an out-of-towner trying to set up shop in the Cataract City.
“Rico” is the street name of a 19-year-old kid from Lombard, Ill. whose government name is Tyler Craig Smith.
While it’s not clear exactly when Rico hit town, he was living in an apartment in the 900 block of Ontario Avenue and, apparently, doing a brisk business selling crack cocaine. Neighborhood complaints suggested that Rico’s crack business was on a par with a fast food drive-thru.
Just walk up to the apartment door, knock and you were on your way. Rico’s operation was so brazen, that two veteran Falls narcotics detectives decided to use an investigative approach that they seldom employ here in an effort to catch him in the act of dealing.
Most city dealers know the NFPD drug detectives on sight, so rarely do they attempt to buy narcotics themselves. But in Rico’s case, investigators went right to the source.
With $20 in his pocket, a Falls detective entered Rico’s building and went to his apartment door. When he knocked, Rico answered.
“Can you hook me up,” the detective asked.
Rico was happy to help. Digging deep into his pocket, Rico pulled out a bag full of smaller bags, each containing a rock of crack cocaine.
The detective asked for a “20” and Rico handed him a baggie with a rock.
With the deal done, Rico then gave the detective his cell phone number and told him to call him back when he needed more.
The next day, the detective called Rico to buy “another 20 piece.” Rico was happy to oblige.
Meeting at a corner store at Main Street and Niagara Avenue, Rico once again sold a rock of crack to the detective. But this time there was a twist.
As Rico walked out of the store, two other Falls narcotics detectives were waiting for him. Spotting the detectives, Rico took off running, south on Main Street to Cleveland Avenue.
Rico sped away so fast, he lost his felony flyer sneakers and began to head down American Legion Way in his socks. Realizing his run into the alley was the end of the line, Rico then surrendered to the detectives.
Maybe selling crack to anyone who knocks on your door is the way they deal drugs in Lombard. Here in the Falls, not such a good idea.
Big shoes to fill
Falls Police Narcotics Det. John Galie was always a gentle giant.
I say, “was,” because John is a narcotics detective no more.
He quietly retired a few weeks ago, and with his departure came the end of an almost four decade run of Galies on the Falls Police force. John’s grandfather, his dad and his brother, Jim, all had long and decorated careers with the NFPD.
So did John, and I would have written about all of that if he had let me know he was hanging up his badge. But he didn’t.
In fact, I’m told John asked others in the department not to make a big deal out of his retirement, keep it low key.
That’s no surprise. It was John’s style. He always let his actions do the talking. He was as talented a cop as there is and he’ll be missed on the streets.
I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye and wish him well. So I’ll do it here.
All the best John Galie.