- NAME: Thelma Wright
- OCCUPATION: Drug Dealer
- Full Name: Thelma B. Wright
- Nickname: "Queen Pen"
- Nickname: "Boss Lady"
- AKA: Thelma Wright
Best Known For
When her husband, Jackie Wright, a major player in the Philadelphia drug game, was murdered, Thelma Wright became a gangster queen of Philadelphia, transporting cocaine and heroin between Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
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Thelma Wright met her husband, Jackie Wright, a major player in the Philadelphia drug game, when she was in her early 20s. When her husband was murdered, Wright was faced with a choice: start life over on the straight and narrow, or take over the family business. With a taste of success and the lure of easy money,
"When I go around and I speak to people, I'm letting them know that you need to stay away from this game. You're not going to win. It is a 'no win.' Two options: death or jail. That's it. There's nothing else."
"Looking back on it now, I did what I did to survive, to take care of myself and my son. Would I do it again? No. No, absolutely not."
Wright began transporting cocaine and heroin between Los Angeles and Philadelphia. But life in the game was not what she bargained for. Wright her life of crime behind for good in 1991 and published a memoir a decade later, With Eyes From Both Sides - Living My Life In and Out of the Game.
Raised by loving parents in a wholesome Catholic household in South Philadelphia, Thelma Wright attended St. Maria Goretti High School before enrolling at Temple University, where she studied real estate management. According to her later-published memoir, she then relocated to Los Angeles, California, where she began initiating various business ventures, including founding a clothing design company entitled Jackiem Enterprises, Inc., in the late 1980s. After spending several years in L.A., a homesick Wright returned to her native Philly.
In 1977, when she was in her early 20s, Thelma Wright met her future husband, Jackie Wright, a major player in the Philadelphia drug game and one of the top heroin wholesalers in the city, who had connections to the Black Mafia—a ruthless Philly street gang known for killing police officers. The couple had a child, a son they named Jackiem, in 1982.
Tragedy struck in August 1986, when Jackie Wright was murdered; his body had been found with a fatal gunshot wound to the head, rolled up in a rug. Thelma, in turn, was faced with a choice: start life over on the straight and narrow, or take over the family business. "He took care of us, loved his son. If he was around, nothing could happen," Thelma later said of her husband, adding, "People are assuming Jackie left me all this money. Nope. I got this child. I can't lay down and die, so we just resumed business as normal. Made a lot of money. A lot of money."
In the early 1990s, Philadelphia was a mecca of drug distribution—primarily heroin and cocaine. With a taste of success and the lure of easy money, Wright quickly took over her husband's trade. She ran a large organization that operated from Philadelphia, but had tentacles throughout the United States, overseeing the transportation of large quantities of cocaine and heroin between Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Along the way, she earned such monikers as "Boss Lady" and "Queen Pen." "It was about survival. It was about, you know, getting to another level," Wright later said.
It didn't take long for Wright to start seeing incredible profits from her work. "I made a lot of money. A lot of money," she said. "I can tell you I made a lot of money. You know in The Godfather when they say, 'It's a lot of money in that white powder'? It was a lot of money in that." The numbers are congruent with Wright's sentiments—she was making an estimated $400,000 in profit on a monthly basis.
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