Evil Empire

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Coen was not choosy about his clientele; drag queens, candy ravers, Coen sold to them all. He remembers selling off 100 pills "in 10 minutes" at a private party with DJs, at a profit of $15 a pill. In a scaled-down version of the operation that authorities claim Attwood would eventually control, Coen recruited 13 dealers to fly to L.A. for him, making weekly trips.

By the last half of '95, Coen began extracting himself from the hand-to-hand sales at parties, concentrating instead on wholesaling the drug to small-time dealers. After the New Times piece about the Valley's emerging rave scene, "Rave New World," came out in December '95, business was booming, he says. He started charging $25 a pill to the newbies; his friends still paid $20.

Today Coen speculates that this jacked-up pricing may have been what gave Shaun an entree into the E market, in 1996. That's when the rumors began that a bald-headed Englishman was slipping into the business end of the scene.

Marcus lives in a nondescript one-story ranch house in Tempe. Ring the doorbell and a Doberman pinscher barks like hell. Marcus opens a medieval-castle-style security plate in the door that reveals his eyes, then he unlatches three deadbolts and opens a heavy oak door. He is wearing jeans and an ASU tee shirt.

Virtually a third of Marcus' living room is taken up with boxes of action figures and unassembled plastic models — from Star Wars and Star Trek, plus the entire line of new Spiderman figures, even a few Battlestar Galactica figures from the late '70s. It's a huge pile of hundreds of collectibles, all still in their boxes, haphazardly dumped on the living room floor.

Marcus feels inclined to explain: "Some dude owed me a lot of money. He paid me in action figures." He shrugs at the unlikely inventory. "Such is the business I'm in."

Marcus is a coke dealer, not a toy collector, and a former ecstasy associate of English Shaun. Now he's 29, attending graduate school at ASU and trafficking in cocaine. He'll continue dealing coke until he's through with school, he says.

"Now I have to sell this shit to get my money," he says, referring to the merchandise filling his living room. "I'm living on eBay, bidding out Boba Fett dolls to Star Wars geeks who want to know if the missile on his jetpack is painted red or yellow, because yellow is way more rare or some shit like that. . . . The guy's tab had gotten up to about three grand and he promised me this collection was worth twice that, but I don't know. I'm like, what, Star Wars toys are legal tender for cokeheads now?"

Marcus sells about an ounce of cocaine a week, profiting around $500. He has a regular clientele and makes his rounds every night in Tempe bars, and in nightclubs in Phoenix and Scottsdale.

"The people I sell to are mostly professionals with something to lose," he says. "They're not going to buy an eight ball off me, then snort up half of it, do something stupid and get arrested."

Marcus has been involved in the Phoenix rave scene from its beginnings in '92 and '93.

It wasn't until 1995, after graduating from college, that, like Coen, he decided to deal E. "When I first started dealing E, it wasn't about making a lot of money. It really wasn't," he says. "What it was really about was being able to maintain my lifestyle of not having to have a job, and being able to afford to go to all the raves and clubs I wanted and buy all the records I wanted and still have an apartment and a car and a new pair of kicks to wear out every two months from dancing on so many warehouse floors, right?

"Plus, I was able to convince myself that I wasn't a drug dealer, I was a servant to the scene. Like, I'm bringing the love tablets to the masses. Obviously, I was high on my supply. But like I said, it was a different time. The E then was still really good, a lot of it, so I felt like I was selling optimism in a pill."

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Susy Buchanan
Brendan Joel Kelley