One degree of separation from Haverford drug arrests a little too close for comfort

     Upon finding Timothy C. Brooks on Facebook, the author discovered that she had seven friends in common with him. (Screen grab courtesy of Samira Baird)

    Upon finding Timothy C. Brooks on Facebook, the author discovered that she had seven friends in common with him. (Screen grab courtesy of Samira Baird)

    “When we think about drug criminals, we don’t think of having seven mutual friends with them on Facebook.” A teenager reflects on a drug bust that hits a little too close to home.

    When we think about drug criminals, we don’t think of having seven mutual friends with them on Facebook. 

    Two alumni of The Haverford School were arrested regarding a drug ring that they allegedly established, dubbed the “Main Line Takeover Project” — the “Main Line” being a strip of affluent towns in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Timothy C. Brooks and Neil K. Scott had reportedly set up sub-dealers in many of the area schools, public and private, in an attempt to become the premier high school drug dealers of the area.

    Over $11,000 in cash, three loaded guns, 8 lbs. of marijuana, 23 grams of cocaine, and other drugs were seized at the homes of Brooks and Scott. The published photos of the seized objects were almost comical: In addition to the artillery and contraband, there was a Haverford School lacrosse bag, and a lacrosse stick.

    While it isn’t newsworthy that communities of affluence sometimes have a very harsh underbelly, the extent and magnitude of Brooks and Scott’s alleged criminal behavior left me shocked. It’s common knowledge that drug use is prevalent among high schoolers, unfortunately, but the sheer dollar amount, drug quantity, drug dealer self-help books, and weaponry behind this ordeal placed it beyond the bounds of familiar drug arrests.

    My immediate response, because I am a 15-year-old Philadelphia high school sophomore, was to search for both Brooks and Scott on Facebook. 

    Scott was nowhere to be found, and Brooks took a few minutes to dig up. In the newspaper reports of the drug arrest, he’s Timothy C. Brooks, but on Facebook, he’s Timmy Brooks. His cover photo, the most prominent on his page, is him, in full lacrosse gear, celebrating what seems to be a Haverford School lacrosse victory. He is embracing another player. It’s all glory — the quintessential high school sports photo.

    His profile photo also shows him playing lacrosse. The print on the back of his uniform reads “Checking for Cancer.” That’s the Haverford School’s annual high school lacrosse invitational, designed to raise awareness and funds for prostate, colorectal, and testicular cancers. The lacrosse uniforms, needless to say, were not the drug dealer garb we’re used to seeing in the news.

    One of Brook’s profile photos shows him at Haverford’s graduation. He wears their graduation uniform, a maroon blazer and maroon-and-gold striped tie. He is smoking a celebratory cigar. There is a beautifully dressed girl on each arm. One of his classmates is also in the photo. He too smokes a cigar. He too wears the maroon blazer and striped tie. They look like they are on their way to becoming the next U.S. senators from Pennsylvania.

    That’s what haunts me about this case. We’re not classmates, and don’t go to the same school, but these guys look like so many other guys I know:  guys with privilege, guys who seem to have it all.

    We’re used to thinking that people deal drugs because they don’t have other options for making money. It’s the last resort, the riskiest way to bring in cash. We’re not used to drug dealers such as Brooks, whose father reportedly put up $25,000 to bail him out, and hired a top-notch defense attorney. In similar stories of armed, large-scale drug arrests, the arrestees look poor and without resources. Does this change how we think about those other drug arrests, about the people who don’t look like us?

    We don’t ever think that alleged drug criminals may be separated from us by just one degree.

    Samira Baird is a high school student in Philadelphia. She is a former WHYY Youth Journalist Camp participant, and a varsity athlete.

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