‘People put on this weird East London accent for me’: Meet the drug dealer who’s just like you
The Geography undergrad makes up to 10 drops a night
Uni is a time for you to cast off the shackles of your nagging parents and dive head first into experimentation.
Threesomes? Yes please. Cider as a mixer? Why not. Research chemicals? Fuck it – no-one’s ever died from them, right?
But while most people content themselves with bar jobs, promo gigs and part-time supermarket roles, others turn to more illicit ways of making the dosh to finance their hedonistic lifestyles.
And it’s a lot more common than you think.
In a recent survey, nearly half of students readily admitted to taking recreational drugs at some time during their degree.
Out of these, 20 per cent said they’ve sold to friends from their own personal stash.
First of all, whatever your preconceptions are of what a dealer looks like, they’re probably totally wrong.
‘Jamie’, a 21 year old third year Geography student at Birmingham, is a prime example of this phenomenon. He meets us wearing a UoB hoodie and Air Max 90s.
Jamie started dealing in first year, when he picked up for his mates.
He said: “I was buying a lot of weed for myself in first year, and a couple of mates started asking me to pick up for them at the same time.
“Then a couple more started asking, and before I knew it I had a fully functional business enterprise.
“It snowballed very quickly – as with anything, drugs gets cheaper the more you buy at once.”Surprisingly, money wasn’t even an incentive for Jamie when he began.
He continued: “I started pretty much at the beginning of first year, when money wasn’t even an issue for me.
“I don’t think I would’ve looked at dealing as the first way of making money if I had ever run into financial trouble, but it’s definitely put me off getting a part time job.
“The hours are shorter, and the profit margins are much greater.”
Jamie started dealing exclusively to students in first year, but since moving to Selly Oak he now finds himself regularly inundated with requests from locals as well.
“I probably make between five and 10 drops a night, five days a week.
“It’s hard to calculate exactly how many people I sell to in an average night because most people buy in big batches.
“I don’t go any further than Selly Oak though, unless it’s for a friend.
“It’s an easy gig to get into if you’re already part of the drug scene, whether it’s from a consumer perspective or simply just knowing the right people.”
Gang culture in Birmingham has long been noted as an issue, with the United Nations drug chief publishing a statement in 2012 comparing the second city to “the most dangerous parts of Brazil and Mexico”.
But Jamie’s very clear that this isn’t the case for him.
He added: “There’s very little interaction between me and who I buy from – it’s just a number on my phone that I’ve had since I was in halls.
“I don’t work as part of a bigger system. I’ve never been involved in a gang, or had any trouble with gangs at all.
“I don’t even really know any other dealers in Selly Oak.”
Jamie would never cut someone off if he thought they were addicted, telling The Tab it’s not up to him to decide if someone’s had enough.
“It would be completely unprofessional of me to cut someone off. I don’t exactly hang around the house for a cuppa after I drop off.
“If it’s a regular customer, I’ll ask how they’re doing in general, but it’s never up to me to decide when someone’s had enough.
“The stuff I sell isn’t addictive, anyway.”
But he does have trouble with customers who want more when they’re on a comedown.
“The most awkward situation I’ve found myself in is people getting desperate for stuff on a comedown.
“Sunday mornings usually the worst for it. If it’s a mate then I usually don’t mind, but I’m not getting out of bed at half seven in the morning for someone I don’t even know.
“A couple of people have got arsey with me for refusing them, but most people are fine – there’s such a big stereotype of dealers being scary people, I think most of my customers are pretty intimidated.
“It’s funny when I turn up, some people put on this weird East London accent and you can see they’re completely shitting themselves.”
Although he might not look like a stereotypical drug dealer, he does have two phones on the table.
“It’s not going to go off. The two phones thing actually is pretty common, and I never take my work phone into uni with me.
“There’d be no point – I never bring drugs into uni with me, even though a couple of people have asked me to.
“That would increase the risk hugely.”
He told The Tab people prefer picking up from students because it’s less scary than approaching a randomer.
“I think people like buying from students because it’s a lot less intimidating than hanging around on a street corner waiting for an anonymous body to turn up.
“Because I go from house to house, there’s very little chance of getting caught from both parties.
“Does it help me out financially? Sure. It helps pay the rent. I’m never late with it.”
He refuses to disclose how much he earns, but he did say he’s turned to dealing harder stuff and doesn’t deal weed anymore.
“Weed just isn’t that profitable. Or subtle – the smell, for one. And it takes up a lot more room than tabs or baggies.
“I sell Mephedrone and MDMA, mostly. Or acid (LSD). But the first two are my best sellers.
“Whenever there’s a big house event on in Brum I can get up to 30 different calls a night from people wanting MDMA.”
It seems like a risky venture for someone looking to secure a job in marketing in the very near future. But he doesn’t seem too worried.
“I work solely on a local delivery service, so people coming aren’t in and out of the house all the time. I think that would be the main problem and reason that I’d get caught – attracting too much attention to the house.
“I’ve never even been close to being caught. The biggest issue I’ve ever had has come from customers, not police.
“Sometimes students want to buy on credit. I used to do it, but it led to a few falling outs with friends, so now, it’s cash up front or nothing.
“Obviously I set my own hours, but it’s definitely manageable.
“The main problem I have with preconceptions of dealers is that it’s all they do. But I don’t feel like it defines who I am – it’s just something that happens in my spare time.
“I have lots of other interests and hobbies. I’m involved pretty heavily in extra curricular activities at University, and I play a lot of sport, too.
“It doesn’t get in the way of my studies. I’ve never found balancing the two to be an issue.
“Selly Oak’s not a hugely massive area – most drops take between five and 15 minutes. I’ve got a car, so that makes it a lot easier. People tend not to buy so much around the exam and deadline period anyway, so I’ve always got time to focus on my work.”
And it’s not an issue with his housemates either, who are pretty relaxed about his wide boy ways.
“As the situation is now, working on the scale that I do, they don’t mind. It doesn’t affect them too much, and it’s not really something we discuss over breakfast.
“They’re not into the drug scene at all, but they know what goes on and they accept me regardless.
“I’ll definitely keep doing it until I graduate. For me, the pay off definitely outweighs the risks.”