The name Alberto “Alpo” Martinez has tendency to elicit solid reactions. He‘s been celebrated as a street legend of epic proportions—an iconic number out the hip-hop mythology who was played by the rapper Cam’ron in the movie Paid in Full. At the exact same time, Alpo is often reviled together a snitch, a rat the the highest possible order that allegedly betrayed the street code to conserve himself, tarnishing his legacy in the chronicles of gangster lore.

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One point is for sure, though: indigenous of Alpo’s obvious release indigenous a little-known federal prison witness protection program—they’re called “cheese factories” top top the inside—is resonating ~ above the street. Don Diva magazine, probably the longest-running periodical specialized to the drug underworld and street life in new York City and also beyond, reported that Alpo to be released top top its website critical week.

Alpo was known as a trendsetter in crack-era Harlem, transporting thousands of kilos the cocaine into Washington, DC, if flaunting his wealth and flamboyant way of living with cars, clothes and jewelry. But when he eliminated his ideal friend and also business partner Rich Porter—another Harlem drug dealer who‘s been immortalized in hip-hop lore—Alpo’s rep take it a significant blow. Once Alpo go on to testify against the man thought to be his former Washington, DC, enforcer in open court—apparently to spare himself a life sentence—he to be branded a traitor.

To get the real deal on this notorious figure, angry turned to an additional former Harlem drug dealer, Kevin Chiles. Chiles served over a te in the feds for his very own drug organization, founded Don Diva from the cell block, and was a contemporary of Alpo‘s earlier in the 1980s. Earlier then, the crack epidemic was in complete swing and young hustlers favor Alpo, rich Porter, Azie and Kevin Chiles to be making a name for themselves by perpetuating the lifestyle and also fashions the rappers would certainly go on to emulate.

 Here’s what he had to say.
VICE: currently that we think he’s out of prison, do you suspect Alpo will certainly come back to new York? Harlem, even?Kevin Chiles: I am most details that Alpo won‘t come earlier to brand-new York. He to know he has a bullseye ~ above him. That instance with well-off left Harlem scarred and people have solid feelings around it. And he admitted to playing a component in the death of one more with a well-liked figure, Domenico Benson from Brooklyn. I might see a younger dude, ~ above the come-up, try to make a name for us by acquisition Alpo out. They would be soon infamous. I‘m certain these are things he should be considering.

How walk you learn Alpo was out?It‘s been speculated that he‘s been residence for years. However I know it‘s true now due to the fact that he had been speak to a mutual female associate of ours. In the conversations, Alpo was trying to fill in the blanks of years past and also my name come up. She seemed excited around speaking come him and she thought that I would share her enthusiasm, however she sensed after talk to me that i wasn‘t…. I explained to she that ns wasn‘t checking because that him, yet I didn‘t go into details about the specifics due to the fact that she was exterior the lines as much as that way of living was concerned.

You and also Alpo were as soon as friends right?I was cool with all of them—me, Rich, A, and also Po. We would certainly play basketball, gamble, compete over girls, swap cars; us did all those type of things on the regular. At any kind of given time between me, Rich and Po, we may have had 15 come 20 high-end cars like Porsches, Benzs, BMWs. Etc. If one of us pulled up in a automobile the other liked, us let him organize it.

What to be Alpo like?He carried attention to himself. He was charismatic and also outgoing. He had a party constantly going on approximately him and also people gravitated to him. What at some point was unique about Alpo was the he would certainly go indigenous uptown come downtown indigenous the eastern side come the West side practically like he to be campaigning. He to be an adrenaline junkie and also he was crazy about them bikes. Anybody the knows anything about Harlem, particularly in the summertime, is the you have various groups the ride with Harlem act tricks on bikes and also Alpo was one of those dudes the was infamous for that. Po would be top top a bike act wheelies choose 15, 20 blocks at a time.

What go you make of the film Paid in Full and how it represented Alpo, Rich, Azie and also Harlem?I don‘t think it captured the essence of what the was favor being a twentysomething millionaire in Harlem. The influence and power to be overwhelming. That made you feel invincible. Us were young and had a lawlessness about us—you felt like you own the city. The music and also the fashion that the era just included to the allure.

What taken place when Alpo killed Rich Porter?We originally didn‘t recognize Alpo killed Rich. It to be speculated but it wasn‘t until he did an interview and told on himself. But Rich‘s death had a large impact on Harlem. The timing couldn‘t have actually been worse—Richard was in the center of negotiating the release of his 12-year-old brother, Donnell, who had been kidnapped and was being hosted for $500,000 ransom. Well-off was killed, and then a few days later the human body of his tiny brother was discovered in the very same vicinity.

What perform you think about snitching in general?We every signed on to live our lives outside of the law. There’s a details principle or perspective that is put into play. Because that me and also anybody the that attitude or way of life who choose to live external the law, there‘s a certain understanding: It‘s never ever right in any instance to take your situation and then pass it ~ above to somebody else to experience the consequences of her actions. A man takes duty for his actions.

What is increase with Don Diva magazine for those who arent hip?We speak to ourselves one urban way of life magazine. That doesn‘t just encompass the gangster way of living —we touch on all facets of the urban existence. The magazine to be created because I didn‘t desire to see people follow in my footsteps. I understand this brand-new generation is infatuated with what lock think that the gangster way of living represents, however they have actually no understanding of the consequences and collateral damage it causes.

When I came up v the idea for the magazine, i was most likely at among the shortest points of mine life and also wanted to have the ability to do something to impact change. One of the only upsides to being incarcerated in the federal prison system was that ns was able to accomplish other individuals of mine stature from all over the country. We all had actually our very own experience through the legitimate system and the other after-effects that come with our lifestyle. I knew if I can tell the story of people who space respected in their communities like Larry Hoover indigenous Chicago, Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory from Detroit, Akbar Pray native Newark, brand-new Jersey, man Fisher indigenous Harlem Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff from monarchs and The chamber Brothers from Detroit—just to surname a few—we could assist this generation make better decisions.

These individuals and their stories offer as a cautionary tale. No one wants to end up dead or in jail for the remainder of your life.

*This piece originally appeared on VICE.

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Follow Seth Ferranti on Twitter and check out his book on Alpo here.

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