Beland, Lucy (1871–1941)

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Beland, Lucy (1871–1941)

American drug peddler. Name variations: Mrs. Lucy Beland; Ma Beland. Born in Texas in 1871; died in Texas in 1941; married J.H. Beland (deceased); children: six.

With a modus operandi paralleling the notorious Ma Barker , Lucy Beland used her children to commit crimes, turning them into drug addicts and prostitutes in an illegal drug wholesaling operation that peaked in the late 1930s. Beland's early married life in Grandview, Texas, reportedly gave no indication of what was to come. In 1908, she convinced her husband, an engineer for a cotton-oil mill, to move to Fort Worth. In order to acquire more of the good things in life she was determined to have, she then emptied the couple's bank account. After her husband left her, she moved to Fort Worth's red-light district, sent her daughters out on the streets, and began dealing in heroine and morphine, instructing her sons to peddle drugs throughout Texas.

Beland became the major wholesaler of illegal drugs in the Southwest. She grew rich and powerful, especially after the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, when drugs became scarce. Although she bribed Texas officials to overlook her operations, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics kept her under close scrutiny. Four of her children became addicts. In 1931, her daughter Willie was caught and jailed; her son Charlie met the same fate in 1935. One daughter eventually died of an overdose which had been smuggled into her prison cell by her mother. In 1937, Beland was trapped while making a drug deal with an undercover agent. Because of her advanced age, she was given only a two-year sentence. Beland died in 1941, two years after her release.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Beland, Lucy (1871–1941)

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