Manny’s Delivery Service

Couple weeks ago, I spent a morning in federal court in Los Angeles to learn a little more about drug underworld ingenuity.

Federal agents had busted an enterprise known as Manny’s Delivery Service, an organization that they alleged distributed heroin across the San Fernando Valley to customers who’d call in and place their orders.

Manny was the street name of the lead defendant, Sigifrido Gurrola Barrientos (see photo).

These guys reportedly used Uber to transport the proceeds – $129,000 in one instance, according to the indictment. (Read the press release here.)

They seemed to replicate the system that was perfected and taken nationwide by the folks from Xalisco, Nayarit, which I wrote about in my book, Dreamland.

As it turns out, according to defense attorneys, Manny’s was allegedly run by fellows from the Mexican states of Puebla and Guanajuato, which are not states I’ve associated with drug trafficking. Not sure where Mr. Gurrola Barrientos is from. But it’s not surprising the business model would be used by others. There’s no trademark or copyright in the underworld.

I was intrigued by the case as well because I’m fascinated by all the ingenuity displayed in that vast, profit-motivated culture of drug trafficking, particularly from Mexico.

In the 1990s, American medicine began to claim that opiate painkillers could be prescribed virtually indiscriminately, with little risk of addiction to patients. The result over the next two decades was a huge increase in our national supply of painkillers.

That happened without anyone realizing that our heroin market had also shifted during those years. Most of our heroin now came not from the Far East (Turkey, Burma, Afghanistan) but from Latin America – Colombia and, today especially, from Mexico. It got here cheaper and more potent than the Far East stuff.

Truth is, though, most Mexican traffickers for years cared little for heroin, which they viewed as decidedly scuzzy and back-alley and with a relatively small market of tapped-out users in the United States. So they focused more on cocaine and meth, and pot, of course.

Then we began creating scads of new opiate addicts with this expansion of indiscriminate prescribing of narcotic painkillers.

That, in turn, awoke an underworld version of Fedex, and unleashed the powerful and ingeniously creative forces of the Mexican drug-trafficking culture, then largely dormant when it came to heroin. By the way, that’s not to say, necessarily, cartels. Just a widespread culture of drug trafficking, particularly in certain regions of Mexico.

There’s a reason why heroin exists. It’s not because it has much medicinal use. Or, better put, the painkilling benefits it does possess can be provided by other drugs at far less risk of addiction. Heroin exists because it’s a great drug if you’re a trafficker. It’s easy to make and is very condensed. It’s easy to cut – making it profitable to traffic even in small quantities. So small-scale heroin trafficking is a big part of the story of how it gets here from Mexico.

Also, heroin is one of the few drugs that makes sense to sell retail – as it creates customers who must buy your product every day, Christmas included, and usually several times a day.

Thus applying basic business-school principles to heroin vending – principles of marketing, customer service, etc – just naturally occurs to folks.

Hence Manny’s Delivery Service. And a bunch more like them.

24 Comments

Filed under Border, Dreamland, Los Angeles, Mexico, The Heroin Heartland

24 Responses to Manny’s Delivery Service

  1. Nicole

    I actually picked up from Manny, as well as his rival Pedro. Manny had better dope, but made you wait for sometimes hours because of how many customers he had. As to where Pedro would always be there with the quickness. But to say Manny started the pizza delivery like model? Lol deff not true, all cartels sell drugs this way. I was a heroin addict for the past decade, and everywhere on the west coast where there are cartels has been selling like this. Maybe he’s just one of the first ones to get busted? The reason they have it set up like that to where you never actually get to see Manny is to keep the boss safe. He has his runners driving around with the dope while he sits on the comfort of his home stacking up the cash.

  2. Eric Houser

    El chapo,manny(el don) both are genius and entrepreneurs basic c.e.o of a lucrative buisness that supplies people what they want.Do you see commercials for there companys,commercials that promise the world ..The answer is no! But how bout multo billion dollar Rx companies do you see commercials for there product on tv durtinh all hours of the day?.The answer is yes you do it takes nearly half the comercial to identify common and possible side effects ranging from impotency to suicide even blindness.So who are real criminals here the difference is uncle sam gets something called taxes loads of money from these taxable drugs that kill more people daily then supposed drug distributors in there whole carrer.So next time your popping your xannax,percocet,norco etc thinkimg your not a drig addict think twice cause i guarantee you 100 percent you are your the worst kind your shit dont stink and you are all for the DEA doing what they do but just no one day you will lose someone you love to these pills and or alcohol then look back to the last loved one you lost to heroin and you will get your amswer.It does happen of course but at least we did it bu choice and not fed lies by a drug dealer named Dr… x. X. Eric houser (sfv) free manny.

  3. diegoo

    hello my friends are on jaile because of what happen.. any updates,?

  4. kate

    Thank you for writing Dreamland. I live in Ohio. Last Spring, I had full knee replacement surgery. I spent 3 weeks in an outpatient rehabilitaion facility. I was provided pain medication while there. Two 5mg Percocet mixed with Acetaminophen, once every 6 hours. It made the pain bearable enough while doing several hours a day of physical rehabilitaion. Once I came home, the only pain medication my surgeon was able to prescribe was 15 days of 5mg Norco. Obtaining pain medication after that was not an option any physician in this state could provide without losing their medical liscense. It is still that way. This type of surgery is followed by at least 6 months of grueling physical therapy. Learning to walk again is just the beginning. I could just not understand why I had to suffer. Then I read your powerful book. I am SO glad that I did not receive pain medication.

  5. Cynthia

    HEY !!! what happened to INNOCENT until PROVEN GUILTY !!! This is the
    United States of America ??? RIGHT ????

  6. Ness Welham

    There was a tremendous amount of back and forth across the border….no suspicions aroused? Not to mention the drugs….
    Were they coming across illegally?
    That tweaked my curiosity all through the book.

  7. Loved the book, very sobering. Thank you. Am curious that throughout the book I noticed how easy it apparently was to cross the border, go through customs etc..again and again. This included 14 and 15 year olds who did not speak English. How was this accomplished so frequently and was any heroin ever confiscated at the border?

  8. Marco

    I’m trying to find a link to the actual indictment and can’t find it. When you click on the photo of the front page of the indictment it is a dead link. Any ideas as to where I can find it?? Thanks for a great site!!

    • samquinones

      Their site no longer has the indictment, which I thought it had at one point. I haven’t found the indictment. My post now links to the press release of the bust.

      • marco

        Thanks for the update. It’s very important that I read this indictment – do you have any advice as to how to find it? Thanks again Sam.

  9. Thanks for another excellent addition to your already outstanding coverage of this sad national crisis. Your short interview for my upcoming documentary film is just priceless and truly appreciated, I think it will help people understand some of what lies behind even the greed, namely America’s flight from all kinds of pain and suffering—physical, emotional, spiritual. Keep up the good work brother, and never put the torch down.

  10. Jonsonville

    I was a customer of Manny’s and I am sad to see him go. After an accident, I was prescribed pain killers and was fine until I was cut off. I lost my job and then switched to heroin. Everything was fine for almost 15 years, I had a better paying job and no problems. Then Manny was busted. I was too sick to work, and am now on the edge of being fired again. I am in CONSTANT PAIN from my injuries (T11 – L1 spinal fractures, metal in both femurs and spine, and resulting surgeries), and listening to somebody who has no experience with heroin say that it has no medicinal value is laughable from where I’m sitting. Do a little research, and you will discover that heroin is morphine, with two acetyl groups attached to the molecule that help it cross the blood brain barrier faster. This process cleves the acetly groups from the molecule, and all you’re feeling is the morphine. So, to say heroin has no medical value is to say that morphine has no medical value, and anyone who thinks that is just ignorant on the whole subject.

    An end to prohibition is the solution here, so people like me can count on good quality pain relief if we want it and not have to worry about empowering the cartels and dealers you love so much. Prohibition has failed miserably, it’s safer and cheaper for EVERYONE in every link of the chain if it ends.

    • samquinones

      Thanks for your heartfelt response to my post. Your story is one worth listening to.

      I think I was unclear about heroin. What I should have said – and have now corrected – is that heroin does not provide medical benefits that other drugs don’t provide at less risk of addiction. It certainly has the medical benefit of painkilling, to be sure. It’s that other drugs do the same with less addictive potential.

      • Elizabeth Solomonson

        And with heroin , it’s not regulated so there’s no safety net for purity . And if made legal , there would be even a greater increase in recreational use . It’s why we haive pain pills and medical doctors prescribing . Unfortunately, those “legal” drugs , relabeled without scrutiny and the added vital sign , with racism (doctors felt ok to prescribe to non minorities ) hence our current situation . This is just pure greed with many holes in the gogs of the machine . Now we are coming full circle and there’s still no effective treatment , progress is slow , and their are alternatives to these pain killers that r less addictive . Legalizing heroin is letting the fox into the hen house . We are losing a generation of young people and plain and simple – we have know morphine was an end of life drug since 1918 . Yet , the fda continues to allow the mass production of these drugs amidst death tolls . Global big picture thinking . I wonder how many deaths can be contributed to this man ? How many life’s forever changed and ruined ? All this money at the back end has changed NOTHING UNLESS TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE .

        • marco

          Manny and Jimmy delivered a product in a safe manner at a fair price. They were in business for over 15 years, with the knowledge of the LAPD. When the feds became involved it was shut down. Now addicts are forced to find new, potentially dangerous ways to obtain their product. Rather than having an efficient and safe delivery service, people will be getting robbed and ripped off at skid row.

          • Now sober

            I used to pick up from Manny and jimmy. But now have been clean for over 500 days. Clean since 2016.. was addicted for 10 years.. never looking back. Lost a few friends that used to pick up off jimmy and Manny.

          • samquinones

            Hey thanks for sending this comment.

            If you read more about me, you probably discovered that I’m a long-time journalist who wrote a book about these services, particularly those coming from a town in Mexico called Xalisco, Nayarit. The name of the book is Dreamland. Please look it up.

            I’ve been in contact with a few other customers of Manny’s and I was hoping you and I might correspond in some way. I’m trying to put together a story about how it operated and for how long.

            Again, I’ve been a reporter for more than 30 years and I keep my word on these agreements. You don’t last 30 years in this business if you don’t.

            I’m at samquinones7@yahoo.com.

            I’m just trying to learn as much as I can about the daily operations and how long folks had been using this service. No names required.

          • Now sober

            Or they can just get clean..

      • John Sims

        I too was a customer of Mannys. The drivers probably served hundreds of people every day. The way they had it set up was straight out of a movie. You would call them and they would tell you to go to some cross street in the valley and you’d wait for the driver. Sometimes it would take 5 min sometimes 40 min. The driver would step on his brakes three times or flash his headlights three times so you would know it’s him. These people were the most legit “dealers” out there. Always reliable,open from 9am-8pm everyday except for holidays. The quality of heroin was top notch and amazinly cheap. The more you bought the cheaper it was. You could buy a half o and if you sold it for street price you would double your money. He was the guy supplying the dealers. Almost every dealer i know would go through him.

        • samquinones

          thanks for writing.

          As you probably know, I’m a long-time journalist, wrote a lot about these heroin delivery systems.

          I was hoping, as I said to the person who commented above, to talk to more customers of Manny’s, to learn how it worked, their experiences, etc.

          Would greatly appreciate the chance to speak with you. No names required. I’m at samquinones7@yahoo.com.

  11. Joan Peters-Gilmartin

    Another excellent post

  12. Don

    There is another side effect that we don’t hear much about. There are some cancer patients who really suffer and need the opiate pain meds, but recent crack-downs on prescribing them has created a different problem that some would say is easy for the health insurers to exploit to save $$.

    • Don

      You will discover in @DreamLand Sam does a great job of explaining the evolution of opioids from end of life & cancer pain relief to 60 count of percocet to 13 year olds having wisdom teeth removed.

      The solution is not black & white / all or nothing. There is a common sense balance that has yet to be found.

  13. Connie Warner

    Sam – I talk your book up at every opportunity when the issue of the opioid “problem” comes up in conversation. And when I read articles about it in the press or hear some politician spouting off , I am struck at the lack of knowledge and understanding about this crisis; where it started, how it started and why it started.
    Thank you for continuing to speak out.

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