An affable man living in the town of Lewiston, Maine, was shot dead on Halloween in Harlem—where people came out in the street to drink a champagne toast to his demise. How do the two jibe? Writing for the New York Times, Ali Watkins explains that Abraham Rodriguez, as his neighbors in Maine knew him, was also Alberto (Alpo) Martinez, "one of New York City’s most notorious cocaine dealers of the 1980s." Martinez was known to be ruthless, a trait that reached an apex in 1990 when he arranged to have dealer Rich Porter, one of his best friends, murdered. Martinez then tried to grab a part of the Washington, DC, cocaine trade but was arrested in 1991.
That's when Abraham Rodriguez was born: He entered the federal witness protection program after spilling on his associates (he got a mitigated sentence for the seven hits he admitted orchestrating and was released in 2015). "His testimony would decimate the Washington, DC, metro area’s cocaine infrastructure," notes Watkins. In Lewiston, a town of 36,000, he thrived—for a time. By 2017 he had gotten his commercial driver's license, was running his own construction company, and was liked by his neighbors. But he also allegedly started going back to Harlem, something that almost certainly wasn't allowed under his witness protection arrangement. By 2020 he was a "fixture" in Harlem. But why he was gunned down, and by whom, remains a mystery. As one law enforcement official put it, "Part of the difficulty may be too many suspects with too many motives." (Read the full story.)