Top 10 
Drug Corners: 2011 Edition

A follow-up to the state of the city’s drug trade.

By Steve Volk Edited by Jonathan Valania
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 66 | Posted Aug. 24, 2011

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following report—the product of a partnership between Phawker and PW and funded by a grant from J-Lab and the William Penn Foundation—ranks the city’s 10 worst drug corners the way Philly Mag ranks pizza or bars or bikini wax salons. Sarcasm aside, the story is no joke, rather it is the product of six months of old fashioned shoe leather reporting, arrest statistics crunching and dozens of interviews with the police, academics, neighbors and drug buyers. The hope is that we can spark a new conversation about drug policy in a city where vast  stretches—block after block, neighborhood upon neighborhood—have  been ravaged by an illegal drug trade that impacts everyone directly or  indirectly whether they know it or not. Maybe, just maybe, our wishful thinking goes, by yanking the readers out of the comfort zone of their safe and happy lives and dropping them at ground zero of the city’s 10 hottest drug war zones, the beginnings of real change—in perception, in policy, in understanding and empathy—could be enacted. Hopefully, that’s where you come in.

In 2007, I wrote a cover story for this publication called “Top 10 Drug Corners,” which ranked the city’s most depressing and dangerous drug corners like Philadelphia magazine ranks pizza or bars or bikini wax salons. After all, when you strip away all the blood and guts and stray gunfire, drug dealing is, at heart, competitive retailing of a rare and precious commodity: Feeling good. There is, of course, a huge market for such a commodity, especially in places that are inhospitable to legitimate business and industry. Which is why the drug trade always seems to flourish in places where angels fear to tread. Philadelphia, one of the poorest major cities in America, has many such places.

In many of the city’s neighborhoods, the opportunities for gainful employment are so scarce and hopelessness so abundant that a vacuum has been created—and nature, of course, abhors a vacuum. With no noise of legitimate enterprise to fill the air—no rumble of a truck toting freight, no murmur of conversation from shoppers mingling on the sidewalk—the most prevalent sounds arise from the underground economy.

“Wet, wet, wet.”

“You smokin’ that crack?”
“What you need?”

Eight different come-ons, from a vast collection of different Philadelphians—white, black and Latino; young, middle-aged and graying. And all these offers speak to the same basic truths: Philadelphia is awash in the narcotics trade. And like all illicit economies, the drug trade begets a brutal gangsterism whose stock in trade is violence—on an industrial scale. The statistics are as astonishing as they are appalling. “We’ve had 16,000 shootings here in the last 10 years,” says Assistant U.S. Attorney Rob Reed. “Sixteen—THOUSAND!”

That averages out to four Philadelphians being shot every day, or one citizen every six hours. Since 2008, more Americans have been murdered in Philadelphia than killed in Iraq. In other words, we have the equivalent of an undeclared shooting war raging semi-visibly in the city’s most desolate and depleted neighborhoods. And Philadelphia is hardly the exception to the rule. Rather, depressingly enough, it is the rule.

As a result, the poorest of the poor in Philadelphia are cut off from the most basic aspects of personhood that the rest of us take for granted. They live in constant fear of seemingly random violence, which, sustained year after year, has created an increasingly common mindset—which some would call cynical and others would call being realistic—that the powers that be either cannot help them, do not care to help them, or, even worse, somehow profit from their suffering.

“Who do you think lets all these drugs in here?” is a question I have been asked, countless times, when sources in the city’s poorest communities flip the script on me and start questioning their questioner. There is a profound hopelessness reflected in that query, a conspiratorial world view that powerful forces have allied against them. It could be easily dismissed if it weren’t so common, and for that matter, understandable. Logic would dictate that if somebody (or many somebodies) wasn’t profiting from all this carnage, it would have been stopped a long, long time ago. Ridiculous, right? And yet, how do you explain that the cycle continues day after day, year upon year, with little change: The bullet-riddled hive of corners, blocks and neighborhoods lorded over by teenagers with guns strapped to their hips; the little boys serving as lookouts calling out ‘5-0,’ warning dope-slingers off the streets when the cops show up; the neverending line of zombie-fied addicts shuffling up to the dope merchants dispensing their daily fix at pretty much the exact same spots, every day?

This list arrives with some major caveats: First, there is so much drug dealing in the city—and the mechanics and geography of the drug trade is so fluid—that narrowing it down to the Top 10 corners is a fool’s errand: It could well be 20 corners, or 50 or 100. Furthermore, even the most extensive combination of face-to-face interviews, boots-on-the-ground surveillance and crunching of arrest stats will at best result in a snapshot of a moment in time, and the enduring accuracy of that resulting picture is debatable. The truth is, the locus of the most heavily trafficked drug corners is constantly shifting in reaction to supply and demand, police activity and internecine turf warfare. If one corner is not active at the moment, then the action most likely lurks around the next corner or will be awfully soon.

Most will sensibly interpret this as a list of corners to stay away from. Others will, ill-advisedly, use it as a buyer’s guide. The point of this list is not that all of Philadelphia is consumed by the drug trade, but rather that one particular part of Philadelphia (and a relatively small one at that) suffers the lion’s share of the ravages of the illicit drug trade: All 10 drug corners on our list are located in North Philadelphia’s Kensington and Fairhill sections.

Which is not to say that no one is fighting the good fight there. Neighborhood activists are always in play. And judging by the numbers, the police have focused their attention on this area of the city. In fact, a map of the city’s corners where five or more drug-related arrests were made for the 15 months from 2010 to the end of March 2011, demonstrates that no other region of the city is the scene of so many narcotics busts as the real estate stretching from Lehigh Avenue to Westmoreland Street, and from Kensington Avenue to Broad Street. But in fact, within that section of the city, the majority of arrests were concentrated in an even smaller area—from Lehigh to the south to Westmoreland, roughly a half-mile stretch, and from Kensington to N. Fifth Street, a distance of just less than a mile.

In a city with a prison system that is already bursting at the seams, the police are working harder here on a purely statistical level than anywhere else. But a simple walk through the neighborhood reveals how little good that has done. In the face of all this blight-pocked urban dysfunction, the list of viable remedies is short: We could remount something like Operation Safe Streets, making police so visible in the neighborhood that drug dealers simply cannot operate as they do now—out in the open in broad daylight. But the cost of that program was about $4 million a month in police overtime and ultimately deemed unsustainable. Even though an argument could be made that Safe Streets was worth every dime, the city no longer has the political will or financial resources to maintain what was essentially a police occupation of wide swaths of the city.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of the streets I walked in North Philadelphia is that the people risking their lives to either sell, take, or often sell and take drugs, are carrying out these deeds quite literally in the shadows of the old factory buildings that once upon a time employed thousands of hardworking Philadelphians who actually made things. Up until the 1960s, Philadelphia was a crucial pillar of the American manufacturing base. North Philadelphia was a working-class enclave. The many thousands of rowhomes both east and west of Broad Street were built to serve this population of workers; and the Broad Street Line subway was built in the 1920s to move passengers from the northern part of the city to City Hall quickly and conveniently.  

But today, neighborhood-sustaining ‘good jobs’ for workers without college educations are scarce to nonexistent, and too many residents use that North Philly subway line not to attain marriage licenses and construction permits, to engage in the legitimate commerce of Center City, but to make it on time—or not—for court dates at the Criminal Justice Center. Solving the drug problem by purely economic means would require a level of public and private investment on a scale that is simply not tenable in this day and age. Barring some massive New Deal-style public-works initiative that revives the manufacturing base of the United States, the prospect of employing our way out of this problem seems remote at best. So finally, this leaves us with our last and perhaps most intriguing, promising and politically hazardous possibility.

We could legalize drugs.

That is itself the topic for another great many articles, and we will take no position on it here, except to say that if we legalized narcotics tomorrow, surely the violent young men slinging dope on the corners of North Philadelphia would be rendered as obsolete as bootleggers after Prohibition. But until then, I give you, for better or for worse, the Top 10 Drug Corners in the City Of Brotherly Love circa 2011.

Visit to read the full story.

An Interview with Steve Volk

On Aug. 25, Volk appeared on NewsWorks Tonight with Dave Heller to talk about his 6-month-long investigation. Click here to listen.

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Comments 1 - 66 of 66
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1. richard said... on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:22AM

“nice picture of obama. the police should just drive up and shoot these bastards. kill the dealers and the customers, eventually that will break their addiction. ADDICTS, WHY SHOULD YOU CARE MORE ABOUT SOMEONE THAN THEY CARE FOR THEMSELVES. Addicts you are a drain on the human race. please do your drugs in a quiet place where mama cant find you and go toward the light.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:56AM

“I agree with what Richard said above. Seriously, we need to take extreem actions these days. People who bring harm, destruction or create drain to the rest of the human race should just be put down. THEY ARE NO GOOD FOR SOCIETY!”

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3. Lala said... on Aug 24, 2011 at 12:59PM

“The pervasiveness of this kind of evil does not exist without permission...follow the money and you will find those who possess power and/or enough influence to stop it yet do nothing.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Aug 24, 2011 at 01:07PM


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5. Anonymous said... on Aug 24, 2011 at 01:14PM

“4# , I agree. police should go in there and take them out. A nice place but that crap goes in the piazza.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Aug 24, 2011 at 02:42PM

“Every one of these corners are located in what were formerly working class areas. I grew up in Kensington before it was known as a drug capital. It's such a sorry mess and a shame what the low life scum have done to it. Just get the few decent people left out and drop a bomb on the rest.”

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7. KoolEarl said... on Aug 24, 2011 at 08:08PM

".....if we legalized narcotics tomorrow surely the violent young men slinging dope on the corners of North Philadelphia would be rendered as obsolete as bootleggers after prohibition...."

Wishful thinking. Take away that source of income and what, does these guys all just say "Hey, I guess the party is over, its time to put in my application at McDonalds" ?... Nope. They will turn to other avenues of crime and you will see robberies, burglaries, home invasions etc skyrocket. Residents of nice areas will be clamoring to make it drugs illegal again just to keep armed gangs from invading their nice streets and have them go back to making their money slinging on ghetto corners.”

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8. Anonymous said... on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:01PM

“Earl is correct with its the people. People that sell it on a corner are not going to go legit. Plus making all drugs legal wont work, that stuff is so damaging. For most drug addicts, they are done. they will never live a normal life, never going speak or act in their original manner. Drugs are so deadly that maybe the punishment for dealing them should be more deadly. Dead people cease to sin and commit crime. Too bad we dont use it. We must get towards the punishment not rehabilitation.”

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9. Iso Offense said... on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:00AM

“Why are the drug articles the most talked about ones PW offer? Lol. Deep down, drugs affect all.”

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10. shotime369 said... on Aug 25, 2011 at 07:27AM

“"...that the powers that be either cannot help them, do not care to help them, or, even worse, somehow profit from their suffering."

That's why they won't legalize it. Besides stopping the street wars, there wouldn't be anymore murder of the "innocents." Imagine what could be done with the revenue. Treatment centers, funding for education, paying off some of the debt, etc. Maybe, in time, the number of "addicts" would decline. However, most likely, the money would wind up in the hands of the same sociopaths that keep the street sales ongoing.

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11. Anonymous said... on Aug 25, 2011 at 07:32PM

“now lets all do a line”

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12. Jesus H. Christ said... on Aug 25, 2011 at 08:05PM

“I can the best and brightest are still hanging out in the COMMENTS section.”

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13. NikkiRealisticki said... on Aug 25, 2011 at 08:46PM

“I often think bombing the Middle East would be a better idea, after removing the children, of course. That would not solve anything, just as bombing the drug-infested neighborhoods of Philly would not solve anything either. The problem is not just drug dealing and drug using. The problem is that parents are just mothers trying to do both jobs and failing. They do not teach their kids nor do they help them do schoolwork and show how important education is. It is rare for children in impoverished areas to attend school regularly and even less likely that they will be at grade level in all academics at the end of the year-yet they are passed anyway. This is not a new problem. This cycle has gone on for decades. These young men and women have no proper role models.And even if they do have aspirations of working a legit job, how can everyone possibly find work? Where do 1,447,395 find jobs that are worth working at? Should a family work at a minium wage job just to pay for daycare?”

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14. NikkiRealisticki said... on Aug 25, 2011 at 08:52PM

“Then take into considerartion a young person, either male or femal who at a young age made a simple mistake (i.e. bringing in a $5 bag of weed into jail while visiting a boyfriend,etc) which is a 2nd degree felony. Now let us see how easy it is for this person who has served their debt to society find a job. As a person who has done this and as a person who spent the better part of 10 years frequenting the badlands, I can tell you that society does not forgive or forget. There are no second chances. Most of the time I think death would be a better option because at least the government would give a check to my parents for each of my two young boys. But somehow I have to keep moving on,hoping that someday someone will recognize that my past and my mistakes do not define who I am. How I look on paper is not the kind of mother I am. Oh but the stories I could tell....”

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15. Ray said... on Aug 26, 2011 at 05:10AM

“Nothing like walking down the steps from the El at the Somerset Station while going through the gauntlet with the vultures yelling "works", "zanny's",.... This spot is like going to an aquarium and watching the fish just swim in circles. I have never, ever seen cops there stopping it. It is truly an open air drug market. I am not sure what is sadder; the addicts in a frantic search to get more, the nodding ones who just got it or the hookers putting their lives at risk to support their own habit. Believe it or not, there are actually people who do not go there to buy drugs or get a BJ. This has to be the most depressing and obscene intersection in all of Philadelphia and just 15 minutes away from City Hall.”

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16. Eb said... on Aug 26, 2011 at 03:01PM

“To begin with, I'm still confused as to why anyone would suggest that we "take people out" as if that is going to solve the issue at hand. That "take people out" mindest is the same mindset drug dealers have, so that just puts you on the same level as them. Sadly, I dont know what can be done to help this growing epeidemic, but we can begin with redirecting some of blame. I love how people only point the finger at African American youth, but fail to realize that most drugs are not even from the United States. Behind most successful drug dealers is a person/group supplying them, that would identify themselves as WHITE. Schools in most of our neighborhoods are a joke. When I was in highshool my geometry teacher was a NTA. He had a book called Geometry for dummies so that he can somewhat "teach" the class. This watered down tecahing is the type of "education" we are recieveing in our schools, and then they expect us to compete in the job market against our white counterparts.”

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17. Anonymous said... on Aug 26, 2011 at 03:16PM

“I pray for the ones that say society should use deadly force on dealers and addicts. Just think of all the familily members, friends, co-workers and neighbors we would ALL lose. I pray that YOU are never touched by addiction. Addiction destroys many lives, not just the users or sellers. I can tell you, as a rehabilitated addict and alcoholic, I pay every day for my mistakes and NO ONE forgives or forgets. I am unable to find ANY employment because of my single arrest and conviction for a drug related misdemeanor. I am educated (I have an MBA), white, attractive, articulate and hard working - not the typical junkie. Sometimes, though, I wonder if it would be better to kill myself, because living with the shame and disappointment in myself, coupled with being ostracized by society, is like death in slow motion.”

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18. Anonymous said... on Aug 26, 2011 at 04:14PM

“LEGALIZE drugs......takes away the crime aspect.......allows addicts to be functional.....and we can finally stop fighting over raising the debt limit and start paying it down!!! Oh.....and stop fighting over who should pay more taxes!!”

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19. Anonymous said... on Aug 26, 2011 at 07:41PM

“19. I ve been touched. dont pray for me feel sorry for me. I think that severe violence towards those people is fine. You seemed to have cleaned up your act. For that I congratulate you, keep giving life a chance. good luck.
18 go F yourself. guarantee you are not touching me.”

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20. Gassy said... on Aug 26, 2011 at 07:49PM

“Some reason drugs make me fart up a storm. It is horrible gas, is it the pork grinds after smoking weed or is it the pork grinds, with cheetos after smoking weed. anybody should I change my diet?”

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21. kensington mike said... on Aug 28, 2011 at 06:15AM

“hope some off them OD last night and died. its the users fault. all drug addicts should die.”

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22. shotime369 said... on Aug 28, 2011 at 09:30AM

“Kensington mike: It sounds like you live a very happy, fulfilling life.”

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23. Anonymous said... on Aug 28, 2011 at 02:25PM

“Shame on you. You being those who think that they have the right to even think they know what is best. We all have opinions, and while entitled to them; we should worry less about hat others are doing to themselves and worry more about your own life. If you were ever mugged or endured hardship at the hands of someone in the grip of addiction, I truly am sorry you had to endure it. However, that is not a right of passage. You can not make blanket statements like this. Were I so say, "Hey, I can prevent the spread of AIDS. Just take all the infected and put them on an island and let them die." Or, " Kill them all, and you stop the spread of the disease." I would be a monster. Shame on you for thinking you are better than anyone else. I am not perfect and neither are you. And if you/ I were, who would want to be around us? Forget about other peoples problems and focus on your own. If you care so little about them, then why even "waste" your oh so precious breath. Judgemental pricks.”

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24. Anonymous said... on Aug 29, 2011 at 07:02AM

“hey 25# I deal with these people daily. My JUDGEMENT of their mental status and capacity is my legal responsibility. I happen to be under a microscope when making these JUDGEMENTS. These addicts need to be a little more concerned with themselves when not in the grip of their addiction. this is when they act as children. their problems for the most part is terminal. So Go F yourself.”

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25. Anonymous said... on Aug 29, 2011 at 10:03AM

“The City of Phila. is responsible for not acting and utilizing it's city services to the utmost. We have in the City of brotherly Love a perfectly good and well trained Sheriff's Department these officers are eager to exercise the 720 Hours of law enforcemt training that they have but the elected and appointed Sheriff for the last twenty years has chosen not to utilise its officers. There main focus is the Real estate unit Don't know why they try to get elected if they don't even have plans to take on the task and responsibility of the Oath of Office to serve and protect the Citizens and the Constitution of the City and country. These Officers want to be more pro law enforment. These officers can be an added visibility and augmenttation to the Phila. Police Hopefully the next Sheriff will take his responsibility more serious”

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26. Anonymous said... on Aug 29, 2011 at 10:39AM

“Why doesn't the City and the Sheriff's department get together and have some of those deputies assist in the fight against crime. Montgomery County Penna. and other Sheriff's departments have partnered up to assist each other in crime fighting. Montgomery County Sheriff has his deputies patroling the Bike paths and the parks also some of the high crime areas assisting in the enforcement of Crimes code and the Motor vehicle codes. Chester County Sheriff and Berks County are also doing the same. Why is it that we the citizens can see the good in using these department in the fight against crime and our Elected Officials don't. These are City and county agencies at you disposal...”

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27. mikes neighbor said... on Aug 29, 2011 at 11:37AM

“If you guys knew who kensington mike really is... well lets say Honestly and not trying to be funning or sarcastic, he has a fulfilling life.”

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28. Anonymous said... on Aug 29, 2011 at 01:07PM

“I just cannot feel bad for people who get addicted to drugs. It's their choice. No one is forcing them to do it. If they OD and die then it's their own fault.”

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29. Olivia said... on Aug 29, 2011 at 04:31PM

“Okay now, show of hands: how many of you "kill em all" hardliners/meatheads call yourselves "pro-life"? People make me sick... and I DON'T mean the addicts.”

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30. b1ff said... on Aug 30, 2011 at 12:43AM

“We could just put everyone in jail until they die and stop complaining.”

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31. Anonymous said... on Aug 30, 2011 at 10:09AM

“olivia you are an ass. bet your educated???”

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32. mr burns said... on Aug 30, 2011 at 11:42PM

“this is the place where addicts go. we are separated from the rest of you. this is the small area where we go to do our thing. if it makes you so mad to think about, then don't. trust me...were fucking fine with it. just leave us the fuck alone and stop arresting everyone. go walk around. you wont get robbed during the day, just solicited for dope or works. go fuck yourself.”

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33. Anonymous said... on Aug 31, 2011 at 03:15AM

“hope you die... Mr burns, same to you”

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34. mr burns said... on Aug 31, 2011 at 03:38AM

“Olivia eats farts for breakfast. Im soooo high!!! Kool Earl is a dirty taint!!!”

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35. Anonymous said... on Aug 31, 2011 at 12:15PM

“Agree. Put them all on an uninhabited island . Anyone read William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"?

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36. white male, early 20s, suburban delco said... on Sep 9, 2011 at 03:50PM

“i am white, suburban, student, articulate.
i found kensington and somerset, and the neighborhood, the excitement became just as much a part of my addiction as the drugs.
i was only stopped once on a thursday because i was doing laps around somerset when nobody was out.
anyone on here who has an opinion "junkies must die"
well we are dying. many of us want to die anyway.
we dont need your blessing, thank you.”

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37. Mike said... on Sep 10, 2011 at 07:43PM

“The best smack is on Boudinot street”

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38. White suburban super welder said... on Sep 10, 2011 at 11:20PM

“I live in the burbs and frequent the "hood" all the time. Had a couple surgeries and get healthy scripts of pain meds that if sold would equal about 8 thousand on the street. Anyway the badlands is perfectly safe for all who travel there that are minding there buisness. Only people that are scared are the cops that interfere with the working people tryna feed there family. And the same people you'd run from would probally pull you off a cliff instead of the theiving, lying, stealing, no respect selfish peice if shit junkie kids that live outside the city and only go there to get drugs. The world would be better off if people communicated before judging, and the people that try to do right and feel like the trade outside there house is theproblem, remember he pays all the bills A's you steal his stash after he gets home from slinging Public Enemy at mutter st between cambria &somerset. Best dope in city but most dangerous in police arresting you at wrong time”

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39. I visit kensington frequently said... on Sep 16, 2011 at 05:38PM

“Lets all just say f*ck it and go to paradice. lol some on here kno what i mean. Lets go buy a toyota or go to the store for some lettuce and tomatoes. haha Fuck everyone”

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40. Anonymous said... on Sep 16, 2011 at 09:04PM

“yeah im from down there and recently moved! But im a ex dealer and user and i know how both sides feel!!!! It's ashame that no one can change that situation! cause there will always will be a dealer and there will always will be a user!!!! no way to fix that!!! that situation is a lost cause !!!! The only thing to do is help the ones that wants help one person at time then maybe we will see a change!!! lets pray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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41. Anonymous said... on Oct 19, 2011 at 03:55PM

“kensington is a mixed community with alot of hard working people.It is ashamed that drugs dealers have taken over this community. they do not pay any taxes but they do use all the services.they take the street depriving
the children the right to play outside their house.The police do n
othing they have lost the battle.My suggestion is that the drug dealers should take over the empty factorys sell their drugs. take the crime away from the children.

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42. Anonymous said... on Oct 19, 2011 at 06:37PM

“what they need to do to stop this mess it's take out all the bad cops and politician, then more strict laws and catch small and big fish doesn't matter, and reinforce values to families that have troubles with their kids. because most of the time i see kids growing alone because, their parent doesn't give a f#$%. now little kid sale drugs and use it. and that's is our future, is not color or race anymore”

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43. Anonymous said... on Nov 27, 2011 at 12:01AM

“#43- they do pay taxes. directly to the police.(maybe not the corner-boys so much, but dont fool yourselves people)

and #33, if YOURE going to call someone ignorant....”

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44. Anonymous said... on Dec 15, 2011 at 01:31PM

“The whole "War on Drugs" is a total fraud. Our own government brings in the drugs. The local police in Philly or any other city DON"T WANT TO STOP THE DRUG DEALING. It's the same reason they won't legalize drugs.....IT WOULD DRIVE THE PRICE DOWN. It would also mean less people in "their" prison system. When I say "their", I mean Wells Fargo, Citi Bank, J.P. Morgan, Chase...etc. These big banks pay billions to launder in the drugs. They also own a good chunk of our nation's prisons. It's modern day slavery (that doesn't care about anyone's race). Break out of the matrix. Google search or YouTube search: government C.I.A drug dealing.”

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45. Anonymous said... on Dec 31, 2011 at 10:48AM

“What about Mifflin square in South Philly? All 4 corners of the square are drug corners ran by different gangs.”

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46. Anonymous said... on Jan 1, 2012 at 02:05AM

“B and stella”

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47. tmc said... on Jan 22, 2012 at 11:20AM

“you suggest legalizing drugs. how would it help anyone to have the government selling poison to people which kills people and destroys lives instead of the murderous creeps who do it now? we need to build a special jail for dealers, on an island far far away from everyone. it should be supermax, no cable, no entertainment, no education, no mail, no phone calls.. just serious punishment and work 12 hours a day breaking rocks if they have to. let them grow their own food. leave them there till they get it.. you don't get to kill people slowly for profit.”

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48. Jeff said... on Apr 30, 2012 at 05:18PM

“This is for the first post by Richard. Yes,i agree that the dealers should be punished for pushing poison and slowly killing people. But underdstand this, once a person has been convicted of a felony it is extremely hard for them to land a decent job to support themself and thier families. On a job application, it always asks if you have ever been convicted of a felony. You must answer truthfully because they will do a background check. Most of the time they will just throw your application right in the trash can. It is because of this that we have so many repeat offenders.
How dare you suggest killing addicts. They are sick people. ADDICTION IS A MENTAL DISEASE. Most addicts can not just stop using. Obviosly you have absolutely no experience with addiction. What if some one that you loved like your mother, spouse, brother, or child was caught up in this deadly disease. Would you still feel the same way? Would you want to kill them? I don't think so.”

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49. Central said... on May 6, 2012 at 07:09PM

“This is a warning to those who frequent the corner at Somerset Street and Kensington Avenue. A profile has been distributed on a light-skinned African-American with a big build who goes by the street name of Cookie Jar. He has been luring young girls with money so that he can take nude pictures of them. Apparently he then posts the lewd pictures on the internet and makes claims that he can contact them for sex. If you encounter "Cookie Jar" or any person with similar MO, do not enter his vehicle but NOTE HIS LICENSE NUMBER and report it to the police.”

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50. MystiKasT said... on May 8, 2012 at 07:43AM

“The only way to get rid of the violence and destruction of the drug world is to LEGALIZE THEM. JUST LIKE WE DID WITH PROHIBITION. If the drugs are sold in Pharmacies or state stores, there will be no corner boys shooting others over turf and slanging rocks. IS IT THAT HARD TO UNDERSTAND? LEGALIZE, TAX, AND REGULATE!!! The war on drugs cannot be won!”

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51. Wilson said... on May 8, 2012 at 10:02AM

“I agree with Central: that pervert Cookie Jar is corrupting these very vunerable young girls along Kensington Avenue. I have seen him once, by Letterly Street. Next time I will copy the license plate # and call the cops.”

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52. debra said... on May 29, 2012 at 04:14PM

“I as caught inan 25 year addiction in the kensington areai to sold drugs at smerset ;went to jail fo it did my time came out stay sober and clean for 7 years until i was avictim of a home invasion where i was raped and sodomized for8-9 hrs i relapsed for 5 months got helpbak in recovery the people in and around somerset really do want help if someone cared to he point to go down there and reach out and help them instead of sitting back and talking bad about them i go yhere every dayto try to help at leat 1 person try to help them reach out so they may have the chance u had instead of putting them down who are u to judge only god can judge”

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53. Anonymous said... on Oct 12, 2012 at 09:50PM

“I love how everyone seems to have THE answer, be it sympathetic or damning towards addicts. It's not a mathematical equation. There is no one ideal solution solution. People fall into the depths of addiction for more reasons than you could count. Anyway, skimming thru chat threads like these never ceases to amuse/terrify me. The single-mindedness with which so many people form their opinions, coupled with a steadfast refusal to entertain the opinions of anyone who is not 100% in step with their own thoughts is can you ever hope to learn/grow/mature/evolve/better yourself as a human being with such intense tunnel-vision, glazed over with what I have no doubt is a HEALTHY dose of hypocrisy. You may not take drugs, you might go to church every sunday, you might be employee of the month twelve months running - but your shit still stinks, I promise you. Ok, rant over, you all suck, and I hope everyone that suggested an island prison or genocide for addicts dies miserably ;”

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54. Anonymous said... on Nov 10, 2012 at 04:32AM

“To the people that say take the users out sould go to hell.It would make you murders and in my eyes that worse then any user out there.I was a user and got help and live a good life.My kid would be all alone if i was taken out as a user”

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55. BillCosbys7thcousin said... on Nov 29, 2012 at 01:44PM

“The solution is simple, just raise Real Estate taxes across the board. This is the easiest way to raise revenue and avoid addressing any of the difficult issues or sources of problems in the city, duh”

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56. Anonymous said... on Dec 4, 2012 at 04:30AM

“I think all of the ppl who believe "island placement" as a viable solution to deal with any societal ill should become
Inhabitants of their own island. They obviously have a problem with society and do not understand that in any large populous, there are going to b ppl who display similar behavioral traits. Some of those traits may b a predisposition to illegal behavior, but they r still American citizens (for the most part) nonetheless, & should b treated as equals. They r lost in their way of thinking and behaving, but if we have learned anything from documentaries, tv shows, & real life examples, these ppl do have the ability to change their lives for the better and become functioning members of society. It seems as tho the police e changing their approach to handling this area. They r doing daily stings on these corners and locking everyone up who is out there whether they find drugs on them or not. They r taking a very hard line approach to cleaning up this area. They r racially”

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57. Anonymous said... on Dec 4, 2012 at 04:45AM

“...continued.... Racially profiling white ppl who come to that area and following them, pulling them over, searching them without probable cause, & locking them up. The cops r stationed at the somerset stop 24-7 now and have vowed to "take the area back." It seems as though this article has brought about a major increase in traffic in the Kensington area by whites from outside the city, etc., so the police r responding by aggressive intervention. Quotes from officers in that area to me, " I hope u wrap ur car around a tree and die on ur way home." "I'm gonna plant drugs on u the next time I see u down here whether u have them or not." "If u don't show me where the drugs r in this car, I'm gonna drop ur keys down this sewer and make u figure the rest out." "I'm locking u up b u shouldn't b down here, I don't actually need to fin any drugs on u bc when u go to court tey r not going to believ a word u say, so I don't even need to have drugs to arrest u." So, this is a warning.continued”

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58. Anonymous said... on Dec 4, 2012 at 04:55AM

“...continued... If u r currently using, get help and quit or go somewhere else to cop ur dope bc u r DEFINITELY GOING TO GET ARRESTED! I had been going there every day for 10 years as a highly functioning addict and within the last year, I've been booked twice copping during stings and both times they never found drugs on me bc I didn't even buy them yet and still got locked up. I've never seen it like this before. The cops r out for blood and if anything it should b an indicator for me and everyone else on here who uses or is thinking about copping down there NOT TO DO IT. Don't give these dirty cops a reason to lock u up and figure out a better way to live life. I'm going to get myself a suboxone doctor and begin NA meetings again immediately. Tomorrow is the beginning of the week for sting, "jump out Tuesday", so everyone reading this and thinking about copping, go to a meeting and a doctor instead!”

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59. Melissa said... on Jan 13, 2013 at 12:03PM

One of the slimiest contributors to this drug problem is an elderly ex-Marine CookyJar. He lures young girls near the drug corner of Kensington & Somerset with huge sums of money to pose in degrading poses for photos, which he later displays on the internet without their permission. Addicts can't refuse his $30 per photo, no matter how disgusting his actions with them.

He is also besmirching the reputation of the Marine Corps:

Honor guides Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior; to never lie cheat or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; respect human dignity; and respect others.

Is it respecting human dignity to command a defenseless girl (he weighs 247 pounds) to bend over and display her rectum, which will be displayed on the internet without her consent for the rest of her life?

Is it ethical and moral behavior to solicit teenagers for sex? Or to lie about his intentions?

Steve Volk, how about an exposé on this pervert.”

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60. Doug said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 09:47PM

“My buddies in 'Nam might hit a cat house or two, but never degrade or scam or hit a woman. This dude sounds like a shameless S.O.B. who never fit into the Corps life. I expect he was dishonorably discharged.

Semper Fi”

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61. Anonymous said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 10:18PM

Steve Volk and Jonathan Valania said:
"Maybe, just maybe, our wishful thinking goes, by yanking the readers out of the comfort zone of their safe and happy lives and dropping them at ground zero of the city’s 10 hottest drug war zones, the beginnings of real change—in perception, in policy, in understanding and empathy—could be enacted. Hopefully, that’s where you come in."

Well, Steve and Jonathan, I got to ONE of the hottest drug war zones, thanks to your readers' comments about a porn pimp named COOKYJAR. And yes, I now have REAL empathy for his victims at Somerset and Kensington Ave. Here's why. This man has put 9,332 photographs online of young naked female drug addicts from Kensington. 9,332!!! If you don't believe me, go to his website at

I mean really. This is disgusting. Can you fathom how much money he has poured into the drug purchasing side of this problem? Good God. Do a story on this guy and run him out of the neighborhood. Or use your journalistic credentials to pry his true identity from the website so the police can investigate.”

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62. Anonymous said... on Jan 21, 2013 at 06:38PM

“Re: Cookie Jar porn or whatever it is
I went to the sex guide link in the comment above. The guy had some pics of an ugly white woman and wrote some stuff about her giving a "menu" to him with "anal" and and he couldn't "do" her. The guy's a homosexual! Looks to me like a drug triangle: dealers launder money with him for pics, he pays girls for photos, girls pay dealer for drugs.

Not long before someone spills his real ID. He's much too open for his own good.”

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63. samiam said... on Jan 21, 2013 at 07:37PM

“Everyone knows Cambria and Kensington Ave is one of the worst corners in the whole city. I think that that is what this article was about. Ask yourself if you've ever been dope sick? Never had a problem with cops here ever. Go figure. I've been clean now for three days off of crack and heroine. My prostitute girlfriend however is missing and has been for a while now a week I think. I sure do miss her. Real talk. Feels good to know I'm not the only one that had problems here. I remember in high school you could drive through like at a fast food chain. Not really any more. You have to park and walk up Cambria now. Dope powder rock Dope powder rock is all I here. True Religion and 007 some of the best dope I ever had. Pick your corner and the dealer will run and pull a bundle out of a tailpipe underneath a car and serve you to your hearts desire. I hope this helps.”

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64. Fred said... on Jan 21, 2013 at 09:03PM

“Your girlfriend probably posed nude for the pervert COOKYJAR and blew the entire $300 on cocaine. I hope she's OK.”

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65. samiam said... on Jan 21, 2013 at 09:22PM

“LOLOLOL I thought the same thing fred... Thanks though.”

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66. Anonymous said... on Jan 26, 2013 at 07:54AM

“This Cookyjar guy sounds like a real dirt bag. Hopefully they catch him soon. Samiam-I remember those days of driving up and not even getting out of the car. I was in HS also-97-99? I haven't been there in years though.”


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