She was only 16 years old, but she lived like a millionaire. She wore fur coats, drove luxury cars, and flaunted her wealth to her teachers and classmates. She was Maxine Walter, better known as Red Top, the most successful female drug dealer in Harlem’s history.
How Maxine Walter aka Red Top Became a Millionaire at 16 Years Old
Red Top worked for Frank Lucas, the notorious heroin kingpin who smuggled drugs from Southeast Asia in the coffins of dead American soldiers. Lucas trusted Red Top with his most potent product, called Blue Magic, which he sold for half the price of his competitors. Red Top was so good at selling Blue Magic that she earned $300,000 a month, more than some of Lucas’s top lieutenants.
Red Top was not stingy with her money. She loved to spoil her friends and family with lavish gifts and shopping sprees. She even took her teachers and classmates to Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, where she bought them clothes, shoes, and jewelry. She once said, “I don’t care about money. I just like to see people happy.”
Red Top was not only rich, but also beautiful. She had long red hair, green eyes, and a slender figure. She attracted the attention of many men, including some of the most powerful drug lords in Harlem. One of them was Frank Matthews, who rivaled Lucas in the heroin trade.
Matthews admired Red Top’s work ethic and charisma so much that he gave her a special stamp for her heroin bags: DOA, which stood for Dead on Arrival. It was a sign of respect and recognition for Red Top’s quality and reputation.
The Deadly Love Triangle
However, Red Top’s beauty also caused trouble for her. She became involved in a love triangle with two other drug dealers: Peewee Kirkland and Freddie Myers. Kirkland was a basketball star who turned to crime after being rejected by the NBA. Myers was a former boxer who became one of the biggest cocaine suppliers in New York.
Both men were smitten with Red Top and competed for her affection. They showered her with expensive gifts and promises of marriage. But Red Top played them both, enjoying their attention and money without committing to either one.
Red Top’s love life soon turned violent. Kirkland and Myers became jealous and paranoid of each other. They accused Red Top of cheating and lying to them. They threatened to kill each other and anyone who got in their way. Red Top tried to calm them down, but it was too late. The situation escalated into a bloody war that claimed many lives.
How Maxine Walter aka Red Top Died
Red Top was was killed by a stray bullet on April 15, 1973, while she was walking on 125th Street with her cousin. The bullet came from a gun fired by Black Sunday, the bodyguard of Nicky Barnes, another heroin kingpin who was at war with Matthews. Black Sunday was aiming at a man who owed Barnes money, but he missed and hit Red Top instead.
Red Top died instantly. She was only 17 years old.
Red Top’s death shocked Harlem. She was mourned by thousands of people who knew her or admired her. She was buried in a white coffin with a red rose on top. Her funeral was attended by many celebrities, politicians, and drug lords, including Lucas, Matthews, Kirkland, Myers, and Barnes.
Red Top’s legacy lives on in the history and culture of Harlem. She is remembered as a legend, a heroine, and a trage