Willie "Flukey" Stokes was on the short list of most successful Black gangsters not just in Chicago history, but in American history. An iconic figure in the Windy City, he first became known to police in the late 1950's as a drug dealer, and by the late 70's had become a true Kingpin, dominating the South Side drug trade. Stokes' flair for the dramatic was such that when his son "Willie the Wimp" was killed in 1984, the funeral was memorialized in song by legendary guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn. Stokes was killed just as the age of crack cocaine was taking root, and in many ways he was the last of a dying breed. During Flukey's era, selling drugs was a complicated game controlled by a select few, not the wild west of teenage gunslingers that characterized the age of crack cocaine. By now, stories about piles of cash and lists of murder victims associated with the drug underworld are old hat, so what makes the tale of Flukey Stokes worth telling? After sifting through court documents and news articles about not only Stokes, but the various criminal characters involved in his story, I realized that the real story wasn't Stokes, but the system, primarily meaning the Chicago police department and Cook County prosecutor's office, that allowed him and other criminals to thrive, year after year, decade after decade. Like so many major black drug dealers of his era, Flukey cultivated a Robin Hood image; people said he would find a new home for a burned-out family or reach into his pocket to keep a mother and her children from being evicted. After his death, 'Flukey' T-shirts sold like hotcakes (or bags of dope) across Chicago's south side. At the time of his death, federal agents had been investigating his operation for about two years, according to an agent involved in the probe. They were within a couple months of indicting him on charges of racketeering, tax violations and running a criminal enterprise, said the agent, who asked that his name be withheld for the safety of his family. "What he would have been looking at was life in prison," he said. The Feds claimed that Stokes ran 20 to 40 dope houses, selling cocaine and heroin 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Each house made $20,000 to $60,000 a week; as many as 200 people were on his payroll at any given time, according to the agent. Today, Chicago is the capital of illegal drugs in America; Willie "Flukey" Stokes was the most powerful black gangster in Chicago history. The story of his life and death is a saga of bodyguards turned to assassins, hitmen turned to informants, informants turned to rapists, shooting victims turned to murder suspects, and kingpins turned to corpses in a never ending cycle.