Welcome to another A2A Long Reads, a weekly roundup of the most in-depth and thought-provoking longform journalism pieces (according to me, of course). This week’s long reads are courtesy of The New York Times Magazine, Pacific Standard, Tampa Bay Times, Chicago Magazine and The Daily Beast.

The Coast Guard’s ‘Floating Guantánamos’

Beginning in the late 1980s, the U.S. government passed a set of laws meant to stem drug smuggling across international waters. In recent years, these attempts have led to the creation of “floating Guantanamo’s,” a series of U.S. Coast Guard fleets upon which boatmen suspected of smuggling drugs are held for weeks or months before being arraigned in an American court. Many former detainees say they were kept in inhumane conditions: shackled, chained and even starved. The U.S. government denies any wrongdoing.

An excerpt from this long read: 

Jhonny Arcentales had visions of dying, of his body being cast into the dark ocean. It had been more than two months since Arcentales, a 40-year-old fisherman from Ecuador’s central coast, left home, telling his wife he would return in five days. A cuff clamped onto his ankle kept him shackled to a cable along the deck of the ship but for the occasional trip, guarded by a sailor, to defecate into a bucket. Most of the time, he couldn’t move more than an arm’s length in either direction without jostling the next shackled man. “The sea used to be freedom,” he told me. But on the ship, “it was the opposite. Like a prison in the open ocean.”

(Illustration: Oliver Barrett)

King of Boise: The Life and Times of a Teenage Oxycodone Dealer 

At the height of his career as a drug dealer, 20-year-old Austin Serb was the biggest dealer in Boise. With 11 pushers under him, each with their own territory, Serb had cornered the market for painkillers in the city. Little did he know, his life– and career– would soon spiral out of control. There’s an expensive price to pay for being the biggest drug dealer in Boise.

An excerpt from this long read: 

Austin Serb wasn’t the only dealer in town, but he was the biggest, and the only dealer with consistent supply. By 2012, he had cornered the market for painkillers in Boise, a high-desert city of around 225,000. He employed 11 pushers, each with their own territory, armed them with iPhones, and paid bonuses to top sellers. Together, they sold painkillers to thousands of customers, mostly men in their early 20s. But they also sold to women, and older people. Everyone, it seemed, had a taste for the drug. For every $9,000 they brought in, Serb’s take was $3,000.

The House on the Corner

When Anthony Roy and his wife, Irene Quarles, retired to a small house on a large lot in Clearwater, Florida, they thought it would be the fresh start they’d always dreamed of. It didn’t take long however, before strangers took set on their property, hanging out, drinking and smoking weed. Over the next three years, the situation would only get worse. Eventually, someone would end up dead.

An excerpt from this long read: 

People out there in my yard cutting hair for money, using my electricity. If I wanna go out there and enjoy my own furniture, I couldn’t. You gotta step over people. You gotta tell ’em, “Look, don’t come in my yard the day I’m having company.” Everybody sitting in the yard was drug dealers, selling pills, crack. I tell ’em: “Y’all got to go. You can’t sell drugs out my yard.” When you tell them this, they get angry. We started looking for another house but couldn’t find nothing in our price range. The police seen all that going on and just didn’t do anything about it. We went to them a lot. Never nothing done.

The Day Harold Washington Died

Thirty years after his sudden and untimely death, the people of Chicago still feel the loss of Harold Washington. The city’s first black mayor, Washington is widely remembered for his passion, resolve and determination to work with the people, for the people. It may be three decades later, but those who worked with Washington and knew him best still remember the former mayor as if it were only yesterday.

An excerpt from this long read: 

One of my great disappointments is that Harold died before he really got to know Barack Obama. They had one encounter when Obama was a community organizer. I think they would have been extraordinary friends. I think Harold would have been his mentor. And as it was, the movement that Harold created, the change that he made in our politics, really made it possible for Barack Obama to rise and become a United States senator and, ultimately, president. So even though he didn’t know Harold, he stood on Harold’s shoulders.

Etan Patz’s Convicted Killer Wants Another Day in Court—With His New Legal Team

Almost 40 years after his disappearance, many questions remain as to who killed six-year-old Etan Patz. Although a Manhattan Criminal Court found Pedro Hernandez guilty of the crime earlier this year, there are those who remain convinced that the real killer is still out there. As Hernandez prepares for a new trial – with a new legal team –  the 40-year-old question is still being asked: Who killed Etan Patz?

These are the week’s best long reads According to Adrienne. If you’ve got a piece you think I’d be interested in, send it to info@accordingtoadrienne.com.

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