Drug Boss: Roland

By David Amoruso
Posted March 20, 2007

Roland Bartlett reputedly was the biggest drug boss of Philadelphia in the 1980s. His organization consisted of around 60 members, and had seperate crews which consisted of salesmen, cutting crew supervisors, and enforcers. Bartlett himself had started out as a streetdealer for the Philadelphia Black Mafia, and had worked his way up. Eventually he developed connections with the Gambino Crime Family from New York, from which he purchased heroin. Bartlett also had connections to the Genovese Crime Family. His drug organization ran Philly from 1980 till Bartlett’s arrest in 1987. Bartlett’s organization made close to $7 million per year during that time.

Bartlett didn’t mind showing his wealth. He owned several residences in Philadelphia, a $750,000 home in New Jersey, two homes and property in a Susquehanna County resort development, the club Fleetwood in Philadelphia, twelve racehorses and thoroughbred breeding horses, two Mercedes Benz automobiles and other automobiles. Black youths from the neighborhood looked up to Bartlett because of his power and riches. Bartlett’s power was so huge that he did not pay the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Family, led by Nicky Scarfo, a street tax. Bartlett was a vicious man. When his neighbor filed a lawsuit against him for failing to clean up after his dog, Bartlett paid two underlings $5,000 to kill the man, they succeeded.

On March 11, 1987 Bartlett’s organization was broken up, twenty-two men were arrested, including Bartlett himself. He was imprisoned for 35 years without the possibility of parole. On November 29, 1988 he was also convicted for ordering the murder of his neighbor, and sentenced to life in prison. Bartlett died in prison on January 15, 1990.

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