The Atlantic's Drug Math Is Pretty Bizarre

Today, The Atlantic has published a long story by Roy Klabin in which Klabin writes about shadowing several drug dealers as they do business. But some of the numbers in his story do not seem to add up.

The premise of the piece provides lots of color: Klabin follows New York City dealers as they make the rounds delivering ecstasy, coke, weed, and other goodies to their upscale clients. But then there's this, bolding ours:

Carlo pulled out a handful of small plastic bags. Each one contained five or 10 pills, prepackaged selections for various customers. It was a silent reminder that he was on a busy schedule. The man on the phone finished his call and greeted Carlo warmly. They exchanged pleasantries, while Carlo laid out a bag of MDMA pills and two 100-gram bags of cocaine. The phone man handed over $600 that Carlo wouldn't count until leaving the apartment.

Either Carlo is New York's most affordable drug dealer, or something is off here. Two hundred grams of coke and a bag of five or ten ecstasy pills... for $600? Even if the pills are only, say, $100, 200 grams of coke is, uh, more than seven ounces of coke! Almost 60 eight balls of coke! At retail prices, that should be $10K or more, if I'm not mistaken. [People who buy drugs, please chime in in the comment section]. Maybe the guy bought two eight balls of coke and a bag of pills, which makes much more sense. But that's a pretty big mistake to make in a story that is all about drugs.

And then there's the author's description of "Viktor," a man he calls "one of the largest distributors of marijuana on the East Coast."

From our conversation, I surmised that Viktor serves a large segment of the East Coast and personally takes in $24,000 to $32,000 per month after all his other costs are covered. Most of the cash I saw would go toward business costs like employee payments, marijuana purchases from California, security, and transportation.

"One of the largest distributors of marijuana on the East Coast" only clears around $300K per year? That would seem to be, at the very least, a dubious use of the descriptor "one of the largest distributors of marijuana on the East Coast."

Illegal drug dealers, please voice your thoughts below.

UPDATE: The Atlantic has corrected the paragraph about Carlo's drug deal to read, "Carlo laid out a bag of 20 MDMA pills and two one-gram bags of cocaine."

[Photo: AP]