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U.S. Kingpin Who Staged Murders To Be Freed for Role as Informant


January 1993

One of the most homicidal and powerful drug lords in New York City history, Leroy Barnes, will be freed from federal prison in return for 11 years of acting as an informant against other drug dealers (Ronald Sullivan, "Drug Lord Turned Informant To Be Released in Six Years," The New York Times, 12/22/92, B3).

Barnes, now 60, arranged for a series of murders to punish informants and keep street dealers in line after he was sentenced to life without parole in January 1978. Under federal law, the only way a defendant sentenced for life can be freed is by cooperating with officials by providing information. Hence, low level dealers rarely, if ever, have an opportunity to shorten their sentences since they have relatively little information to Barnes for their freedom.

In the 1970's Barnes helped form a seven-member syndicate that divided New York into drug fiefdoms and employed hundreds of lower-level drug dealers. Faced with dying in jail, Barnes turned informant, ultimately setting the stage for his release in October 1998. He won the praise of drug enforcement authorities for participating in dangerous undercover operations in which he set up and betrayed former narcotics trafficking associates.