Anyone who's seen a few episodes of The Sopranos knows that major criminals don't live in the areas they control. They live way the heck out in the suburbs, where they can keep their families (and themselves) away from the havoc they cause.
I remember the chairman of the Big City court where I did an observation teasing me about the low-level nature of the crime I'd likely deal with out my way. The words "Poultry Rustling" were used. The truth is, however, that the senior dealers are more likely to live near me, even though the users are more likely to live near him. If you're looking for a top drug dealer/loan-shark/gangster, he's more likely to be wearing a Pringle at my local golf club than wearing a hoodie outside an inner-city fried chicken shop.
Incidentally, I couldn't possibly suggest that everyone wearing a Pringle at my local golf club should be arrested on spec ... No, really I couldn't ...
Anyway, suburbs are fantastic places to deal drugs. There's more cash sloshing around and the users are less street-wise, often paying well over the odds for substandard gear. Which means turf is well worth fighting over.
I saw my first major dealer the other day, passing through on his way to the crown court. Not that he was charged with dealing - he just had some questions to face regarding a business rival that he and some colleagues had supposedly taken for a ride (in a car boot) for an extended game of baseball (no ball, but plenty of bats).
It was a shock after so many of the Mad and the Sad who pass through my courtroom to finally see someone (allegedly) so genuinely Bad. He stood tall in the dock like it was his Local, totally ignored us and instead chatted constantly to his heavily pregnant woman in the public gallery. I really shouldn't have been surprised when I heard that his address was in one of the leafiest parts of our most leafy county.
When he wasn't talking to his woman, he was openly intimidating his much-younger co-accused. You felt that it was more than their lives were worth to cut a deal and plead guilty while he was around.
After the shortest imaginable time in the retiring room, we gave a big "Hell, No" to allowing bail and they were dragged away by the guards, the boss' discussion only being terminated when the door down to the cells closed on him in mid-sentence. I do hope he was giving instructions to his missus regarding the disposal of his portfolio of stocks and shares, rather than anything more sinister.
Then it was lunchtime - and we were faced with the small matter of how we would get to the sandwich shop without being lynched by his supporters who were hanging around outside the court. I always wondered at the number of well-heeled magistrates who brought in their own sandwiches from home. Now I think I understand why ...