Felix Mitchell was born on August 23, 1954, in Oakland, California. As a teen, he assembled a crew of criminals and dubbed them the "69 Mob." He connected himself to drug suppliers, runners and dealers throughout California and Detroit. By the 1980s, Mitchell had created a robust heroin empire. He was eventually arrested, and in 1985, imprisoned. A year later, he was stabbed to death by a fellow inmate.
An Early Life of Crime
Felix Wayne Mitchell Jr. was born on August 23, 1954, a product of Oakland, California's 69th Street Projects. After dropping out of high school, Mitchell strove to pull himself out of poverty. Using his natural affinity for networking and organization, he assembled a backing crew of notorious criminals and dubbed them the "69 Mob;" the acronym "m.o.b." stood for the phrase "my other brother." Using the strength of this new association, he connected himself to drug suppliers, runners and dealers throughout California and Detroit, Michigan.
By the beginning of the 1980s, Felix Mitchell had created and ensconced himself in a robust heroin empire, and used Oakland's 65th and 69th Avenue San Antonio Villa Housing Projects as his centers of operations. The method he created for drug distribution and organizational maintenance-such as using children as runners and spotters, and punishing enemies with drive-by shootings-provided the basis for the modern drug trade.
Conflicts and Competition
Mitchell's success didn't go unnoticed, and other parties also showed a strong interested in controlling the Bay Area's heroin supply. The 69 Mob faced constant attacks from opposing gangs, including Funktown USA (as headed by Harvey Whisenton) and The Family (helmed by Mickey Moore). Conflicts were frequent, violent, and necessary for Mitchell to protect and maintain his livelihood; at the height of his reign, he was earning $400,000 to $1 million a month in drug-related income.
As the head of a lucrative business, Mitchell loved the high life, and cultivated flamboyant tastes. He owned costly European cars, threw lavish parties, bought expensive clothing and jewelry, and transformed himself into an Oakland folk hero. He was also known for his philanthropic efforts, and donated time and funds to local youth and community programs.
Arrest and Murder
In August of 1980, rivalries came to a head. In the course of three days, police uncovered six murders linked to the ongoing gang war between the 69 Mob and The Family. Police dubbed the incident "Bloody August," and focused their resources on finding and apprehending Mitchell. He was eventually captured and arrested, and in 1985, he was sentenced to life in prison. A year later, on August 21, 1986, while serving out his term at Leavenworth Penitentiary, he was stabbed to death by a fellow inmate.
Mitchell's funeral, which took place on August 29, 1986, was legendary. Designed as a posthumous way of thumbing his nose at local law enforcement, four Rolls Royces and several limousines followed a horse-drawn carriage, which hauled Mitchell's $6,000 bronze coffin throughout Oakland. Before his internment at Rolling Hills Memorial Park in Richmond, California, his eight-mile processional was viewed by over 8,000 mourners. This lavish display is thought to have provided inspiration for the films Juice (1992) and New Jack City (1991).
Authorities hoped that Mitchell's incarceration and demise would reduce-or flat-out eradicate-heroin in the Bay Area. Instead, in the absence of Mitchell's iron grip and pricing structure, drug prices plummeted, making them even more accessible. As a result, addiction grew and drug-related violence increased significantly. Those studying the phenomenon refer to it as the "Felix Mitchell Paradox."
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