By James Murray
May 9th, 2020
If you grew up in a small, straight-laced agriculture and manufacturing town in Oklahoma like I did, and driving into ‘wild towns,’ like Tahlequah as a teenager because that’s where minors would be served beer, you naturally heard about the ‘Dixie Mob.’ ‘Stories of crime and corruption yes its true,’ as the Drive-By Truckers song says, ‘Greed and fixed elections and guns and drugs and whores and booze.’ To the extent any such formal organization ever existed it is now long defunct, the stories now forgotten. When I realized I had mutual friends with an ‘old-timer,’ who would have been a ‘young guy,’ in the 70s heyday and 80s apogee of the ‘Dixie Mob,’ I jumped through hoops to arrange an interview.
Pug says he was trying to make thirty-thousand dollars in thirty minutes but he ended up catching thirty-one months. He thought he might escape with probation since he was nearing sixty years of age and the felony charges were nonviolent. He had caught some DUIs and drug possession charges here and there through the decades but had never been arrested for anything serious. “I don’t know why,” his attorney told him, “The D.A. doesn’t want to talk about a plea deal. For some reason they think you’re a career criminal who has just been lucky.”
“They’re right,” Pug told the attorney, “I’ve been robbing pharmacies, jewelry stores and pawnshops for thirty years. The attorney was shocked and frightened by his client’s revelation. “I don’t know why he acted so offended,” Pug tells me, “He’s the one who chose criminal law. Who did he think he was going to be representing?” After dragging out the case for months and absorbing more than ten-thousand dollars the attorney finally got the D.A. to cut a deal. Pug would plead guilty and save the state the cost of a jury trial. The judge promised to sentence him to less than three years and guarantee all the time would be served in a minimum security facility.
Pug believes most guys do prison time because, “They pissed off a woman who got back at them by snitchin’,” or because, “One of their dope fiend homies got busted,” and being a “broke, stupid, scaredy-cat,” and without old school honor and ethics, “They start squealin’ to save their own hides.” Pug says they begin their prison incarceration with a lot of rage and someone in mind to blame and hate. “I didn’t have any of that because I had no one to blame but myself,” Pug says, “I was just driving down the alley, goin’ to Dollar Store for cigarettes and a lighter. No thoughts of committin’ crime, I didn’t need any money right then. Been just layin’ low in Muskogee livin’ in a rent house.”
“They pissed off a woman who got back at them by snitchin’,” or because, “One of their dope fiend homies got busted,” and being a “broke, stupid, scaredy-cat,” and without old school honor and ethics, “They start squealin’ to save their own hides.”
But when he drove behind the small city’s Walgreens pharmacy he instantly noticed the back door was left ajar. “I seen that strip of light between the edge of the door and the door frame. It happens sometimes, the janitor or the pharmacy clerks forget a particular door needs to be slammed to lock. Or you gotta shut it while turning the knob for it to lock. They’re just in a hurry to leave work, they do the same store closing routine every day and get careless. When I seen that strip of light I knew the whole story. I got so excited I started hyperventilatin’ and had chest pains. I knew I was goin’ in. I had to. I just love thievin’ so much. It’s like when a beautiful woman offers up that pussy. Only a strong man could say, ‘No.’ And I’m just not that strong. I was so excited I could barely drive. I knew exactly what to expect to find in a Walgreens. All the stores are laid out and organized the same way. I was havin’ visions of cases of Xanax still in the shrink wrap and one-thousand lot bundles of Adderall and all the Oxys and how much it would all be worth in Tulsa and how fast I could wholesale it out. I went back to the house and my ol’ lady knew somethin’ was up, I was amped up, covered in sweat. She thought I was having a heart attack and wanted to call 911. ‘No no,’ I told her, ‘That goddamn Walgreens is unlocked and I’m going in! Pack all the shit! Clean the house! Wipe down all the surfaces! We’re moving into a hotel in Tulsa for a while!’”
I watch as Pug does a thin line of methamphetamine off of a tourist-trap ‘souvenier plate,’ celebrating Beaver Lake, Arkansas, a huge bass wiggles in enamel as he expertly cleans up the drugs with a cut-down McDonald’s straw before continuing. “Of course, it was a bad idea. All my tools and gear were forty miles away in a storage unit in Tulsa. I didn’t have no plan. Didn’t have no helper except for the ol’ lady and she didn’t know nothin’. Didn’t even have gloves and a ski mask, it was the middle of summer and I hadn’t been plannin’ to work. I was breakin every rule the old guys ever taught me. But I was so excited. Like a young Angus bull when his balls is fully dropped and he smells those young tight heifers in heat. He can’t help himself. It’s instinct. Course I’m a man with a brain but I couldn’t stop myself either.
“They got real good pictures of me holding up that bottle of liquid cocaine. They showed em at the arraignment and I look like a man seein’ Jesus Christ in heaven.”
So I went to Dollar Store and bought jersey gloves. I shaved my head and face so I wouldn’t drop no hairs. I made a ski mask out of an old t-shirt. And I went back down there and stashed the car and went into that goddamn Walgreens. Of course in all the excitement I forgot some things. Like a flashlight and my bifocals. The storage room was lit up but the rest of the store was dark. It was like committin’ a break-and-enter in a coal mine. I couldn’t see shit. Now I know my way around a Walgreens. So I went straight to where the Xanax would be. That shit is solid gold. I don’t like it personally, I just drink and do powder but people love that Xanax. It’s the easiest dope in the world to sell. People think something out of a pharmacy is cleaner and safer than street dope. Of course a lot of people kill themselves with xany, it’s more dangerous than speed or cocaine but there’s not a stigma attached to it. The wholesale moves easy. I was just gonna get the high-value shit. The xanys, the Adderall, the opioids, but without my bifocals I can’t read anything unless I hold it right up to my eyes.
So I started going through the boxes of dope, holding every box up to my eyes but it was too dark I still couldn’t read the labels. So I went out to the front of the store where they sell knick-knacks and fumbled around until I found a flashlight and batteries. Then I could read the labels and I started throwin the shit I wanted in my bag. When I got what I wanted, I shined the light around the shelves and I saw a glass bottle with a security-sealed red top. I hadn’t seen anything like it in twenty years. I took it down and shined the light on the label and sure enough – liquid cocaine. A goddamn quart of it. Very rare, very dangerous. Easy to kill yourself with. Must’ve been a special order. I’ve only seen it twice in my life. I almost couldn’t believe what I was holding in my hand. Jesus fucking Christ, I thought, I’m gonna be the highest motherfucker in Oklahoma by dawn. For some reason, I don’t know why or what I was thinking, I pushed the t-shirt ski mask up to get a better look at that shit. My back was to the obvious cameras but unbeknownst to me there were hidden cameras all over the goddamn room. They got real good pictures of me holding up that bottle of liquid cocaine. They showed em at the arraignment and I look like a man seein’ Jesus Christ in heaven.”
“So I got away with the shit and we went to hideout in Tulsa and flip it. MPD got the OSBI involved and they started showin’ the picture around. Puttin’ it on the Facebook and all kinds of shit. Of course people know me all over the state. Who claimed the reward for putting a name to the face I don’t know but I was arrested about three months later.”
“When I reported to DOC to begin my sentence there was an interview and they asked me if I had a ‘Racial ideology?’ I really thought that was funny. I told the woman, “I was born and raised in north Tulsa and lived for years on end in Wewoka, and Muskogee. I don’t hate n*****s and I’m not afraid of ‘em either.” She wanted to know if I could live peacefully in a pod with blacks and I said, ‘Woman, did you not hear a word I said? Just keep me away from perverts and rape-os and I won’t cause no problems.’ Pug says during the intake process the prison staff photographed all his tattoos and questioned him about if any of them contained coded messages or revealed gang affiliation. “They ask, ‘What’s this one mean?’ And I’m like, ‘Man, its the Grim Reaper, surely you know what that means?’ Where they hire these guys, I don’t know. Not the sharpest knives in the drawer. When you got as much ink as I do it get’s old explainin’ what they all mean, like ‘This is a hot bitch in daisy duke shorts leaned over showing her ass,’ and ‘This is Donald Duck with a razorblade in one hand and a rolled up hundred dollar bill in the other.’ It get’s ridiculous after a while.”
“So I went up to him and told him if he didn’t shut the fuck up I was going to put a contract on him and he would be stabbed and murdered in the shower“
“I wish I had some dramatic prison stories but it really wasn’t that bad. Minimum security bullshit. A bunch of old lifers too decrepit to do anything but watch T.V. and stagger around muttering to themselves.And a bunch of repeat DUI offenders, pot dealers and pissant casino-addict embezzlers. I felt like I was the only real criminal there. Somehow they found out…” Pug pauses to choose his words carefully, “I had been around Dixie Mob guys all through my lifetime and they were all terrified, they didn’t know what ‘Dixie Mob,’ even meant and they thought I was John Gotti or somethin’. I didn’t tell em any differently. What they don’t know won’t hurt em was my position.
Some of the inmates were so pitiful I was embarrassed to be there with them. There was this one middle-aged yuppie guy, he had gotten like, I don’t know, maybe ten DUIs. He cried every night. Like a goddamn little kid cryin’ for mama ‘cept I swear to God he would cry for his wife. I just couldn’t take it any more. I was never a violent criminal. I can get violent to defend myself but that’s not what I am. I’ve never even hit a woman tho I’ve been tempted about one-hundred and one times. But I couldn’t listen to this motherfucker cry all night. Night after night. So I went up to him and told him if he didn’t shut the fuck up I was going to put a contract on him and he would be stabbed and murdered in the shower. Total bullshit of course, there was no one there capable of that and I had no crew, no authority, no money. But he believed it and started chewing on a sock to keep from crying.”
“Of course the food was terrible but since I wasn’t doing powder I gained forty pounds in thirty-one months. I had to waddle into the goddamn halfway house looking like a showpig at the fair. Two years later I’m still trying to get back to fighting trim….”