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Sometimes called Mr. Untouchable, Leroy 'Nicky' Barnes became one of the biggest drug dealers in New York City during the 1970s.
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Barnes was then transferred to another facility with a special witness protection unit and testified in several cases. In 1998, he was released from prison. Barnes entered the federal Witness Protection Program and started a new life with a new identity. In 2007, he published his autobiography, Mr. Untouchable,
which he co-wrote with Tom Folsom.
Barnes gave an interview to The New York Times around the time of the book's release and described his new life. "I live within my paycheck. I want to get up every day ... and go to work and be a respected member of my community ... I'm not looking in the rear view mirror to see if anyone is tailing me anymore," he explained.
A documentary on Barnes, Mr. Untouchable, was released in 2007. The story of his rival Frank Lucas also made it on to the big screen in the crime drama American Gangster. Denzel Washington played Lucas, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. played Barnes.
While he has stayed out of trouble since his release, Barnes still sometimes yearns for his days as a crime boss. "I miss it," he explained to The New York Times. "There was glamor, money, influence, attractive women. I didn't have financial concerns, and I do have them now."
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More than 30,000 gangs plague American streets, wreaking havoc from Los Angeles to New York. This violent subculture floods cities with drug traffic, extortion, and even weapons trading. But some members stand apart from others for their fearless attitudes and business savvy. From Leroy "Nicky" Barnes, one of Harlem's biggest drug king pins, to Kody "Monster" Scott, a member of L.A.'s Crips gang by the age of 13, these notorious gangsters have become legendary for rising to the top of their organizations by pushing the limits, no matter the cost.
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