Some Unspeakably Depressing Photos of a Baltimore Crack House

A former Charm City cop takes us inside one of the city's junkie dens

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Over at his blog, Cop in the Hood, former Baltimore police officer Peter Moskos has posted a series of high-res photos showing you what it's like inside one of the city's crack houses. Moskos, who's now an assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, took the pictures in 2001, while he was a patrol officer in Baltimore's Eastern District. The house in the photos has since been torn down.

The pictures offer a pretty stunning glimpse into a world many people never visit--a vacant building where addicts hang out, get high, and figure out where their next hit is coming from. Judging by the photos, it's also where they go to eat takeout, drink soda, play cards, read magazines... in other words, do the same things that many of us do when we go home.

Moskos's captions provide invaluable insight. "A small water bottle (nicely labeled 'water') is on the floor," he writes of one picture. "This water would be mixed with heroin and heated with lighter in a metal bottle cap from a 40oz bottle of malt liquor. The mixture is then injected."

Elsewhere, he explains the significance of a container of cornstarch:

Cornstarch can be put into empty crack vials and repackaged as "burn," or fake drugs to sell for a quick buck, mostly to whites coming into the neighborhood. Some of these whites then call the police and tell us they were robbed (always of $10 or $20). They don't get much sympathy. Locals would know not to buy from local junkies. But selling burn is not without risk as selling burn to the wrong person can get you beat up or killed.

For readers who only know of Baltimore drug culture through HBO's The Wire--and we'd have to include ourselves in that category--these pictures might nevertheless seem hauntingly familiar. Except Bubbles and Johnny and Sherrod were just actors playing characters. It's almost unbearably sad to think of real people living in these conditions.

See the full set of pictures, with Moskos's commentary, here.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.