Pill City Book Cover

How Two Honor Roll Students Foiled the Feds and Built a Drug Empire.

Read the first chapter

Buy from amazon

April 28, 2015, West Baltimore, Maryland: Ground Zero in America's Opiate Wars. In this crime-plagued section of the city, the death of Freddie Gray has triggered the worst domestic rioting since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and created a terrifying new breed of criminal entrepreneur.

Here, as looters and arsonists lay waste to already blighted parts of Baltimore, two of the city's brightest students are helping to carry out a historic drug robbery spree--one that will flood the city with highly addictive pain pills and heroin.

The teens' plan: to use their gang connections and computer programming skills to set up a high tech drug delivery service and Dark Web marketplace. The result: the boys became America's youngest drug lords, in the process sparking bloody gang warfare and a nationwide wave of addiction and murder. Now mixing in deadly circles, Brick and Wax soon found their own lives were on the line...

In this groundbreaking work of investigative journalism, Newsday criminal justice reporter Kevin Deutsch chronicles the rise of these gangland upstarts as they help steal $100 million worth of high-powered opiates, and build a national narcotics empire from scratch.

As gripping and compulsive as a thriller, Pill City takes readers into the heat of the action as Brick and Wax outwit the FBI and DEA, gang members like Damage and Lyric live and die by their own brutal code, the cops battle to stop the carnage, and a high-school coach risks a bullet to get addicts into rehab.

A gritty, hard-hitting story of gangland survival, Pill City will open the world's eyes to the plague of drug-related killings rocking America, and reveal the deadly cost of the Baltimore riots.


“America's urban crisis has never been more alive, more shocking, than in Pill City. Reminiscent of HBO's "The Wire", Kevin Deutsch's stunning investigation show how a $100 million fortune in opiates -- heroin and pills -- was stolen during the 2015 Baltimore riots following the death of Freddie Gray and then spread and sold illegally across the nation,compounding one tragedy with another. With this harrowing account from the encrypted Dark Web and our bloody streets, Kevin Deutsch proves himself among today's most insightful and eloquent observers of criminal life in the United States.” 

Thomas Maier, author/producer of Showtime's "Masters of Sex"

“Pill City is in the best tradition of true-crime writing. It belongs on your shelf next to the books of David Simon and Sebastian Junger.”

Michael LaForgia, Tampa Bay Times investigative reporter, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting

“An astonishing feat of reportage, Pill City is an almost unbelievable tale and journalist Kevin Deutsch tells it masterfully. His unflinching look at the choices two brilliant young men from Baltimore make in search of their American Dream goes behind the headlines and illuminates the heartbreaking complexity of today's opioid epidemic. A shocking, important book.”

Julia Dahl, author of "Invisible City" and 2015 Edgar Award finalist

“An important story meticulously reported.”

Kirkus Reviews

“In a remarkable feat of discovery, Deutsch exposes the perpetrators and victims in America’s opiate wars and those who are risking their lives to undermine their criminal enterprise. He takes a deep dive into a surprise addendum to the riots in Baltimore that followed the death of Freddie Gray, who died from injuries sustained while in police custody in April 2015. Deutsch lets the authentic and powerful voices of those involved reveal the ruthless tactics employed to dominate the illegal drug markets and the equally dramatic efforts by law enforcement to curtail and repair their damage. Pill City is not for the faint of heart. With raw language and violence, it paints a bleak and grimly complex picture and issues a siren call for societal change.”

Booklist (starred review)