He Isn’t The Only One In Hip-Hop: Former Biz Markie Manager Was DEA Informant, Worked For U.S. Government

He Isn’t The Only One In Hip-Hop: Former Biz Markie Manager Was DEA Informant, Worked For U.S. Government


He Isn't The Only One In Hip-Hop: Former Biz Markie Manager Was DEA Informant, Worked For U.S. Government. Photo: Biz Markie performs during the 20th Century Fox panel for "The Book of Life" on Day 2 of Comic-Con International on July 25, 2014, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The government has long monitored the inner workings of the hip-hop world, often using insiders to do its bidding. The former manager of late hip-hop icon Biz Markie has just been revealed as a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) informant who worked for the U.S. government.

During a recent court hearing in Maryland, Lamont Wanzer — Biz Markie’s longtime manager and friend — came up. Recordings from a 2014 search warrant that was executed at the law office of criminal defense attorney Kenneth Ravenell revealed that Wanzer had been a “cooperator” within the drug organization of Richard Byrd, Ravenell’s longtime client. Ravenell is currently on trial in the U.S. District Court for racketeering conspiracy and money laundering, the Baltimore Sun reported.

According to the 83-page warrant, Wanzer, who died in 2014 from cancer, cooperated with the DEA since 2013. His cooperation led to a prison sentence for Byrd, who’d been trafficking marijuana, HipHopDX reported.

Wanzer wasn’t identified by name, but in transcribed recorded conversations, a person nicknamed “Monte” was talking about his company BizMont. He said he ran with Biz Markie. Meanwhile, Wanzer and Byrd ran a marketing and events company called Loc Marketing that was actually a front for laundering Byrd’s drug profits.

During the trial, DEA Task Force Operator David Phillips said Wanzer had “first-hand knowledge about the business dealings and practices of Loc Marketing,” and he’d “advised your affiant that the Byrd DTO used Loc Marketing to launder large amounts of currency that he believed were the proceeds of narcotics sales.”

Are you interested in getting smart on Life Insurance?
Click here to take the next step

Although Ravenell has pleaded guilty to money laundering, racketeering conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, his attorneys said he didn’t “knowingly accept drug proceeds” and claimed the other actions he took for Byrd DTO were part of his duties as a defense attorney.

Biz Markie, who died at the age of 47 in July from complications stemming from diabetes, was not implicated in any of Wanzer’s DEA dealings. 

The government spends heavily on informants – $500 million in 2014, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – but the return is much higher. The Asset Forfeiture Program received $4.47 billion in 2014 through cash and other seizures. The FBI uses more than 15,000 informants.

Wanzer is far from the only person connected to hip-hop that has worked with the feds.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 74: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin returns for a new season of the GHOGH podcast to discuss Bitcoin, bubbles, and Biden. He talks about the risk factors for Bitcoin as an investment asset including origin risk, speculative market structure, regulatory, and environment. Are broader financial markets in a massive speculative bubble?

Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez was a longtime government informant, according to The New York Daily News. Perez was arrested in 1994 for possession of 35 kilos of cocaine. In March 2015, she struck a deal with the feds, agreeing to wear hidden wires to record her meetings with major cocaine traffickers. Turned government informer, she helped the Drug Enforcement Administration break up major drug deals in Puerto Rico and Colombia.

Perez was pardoned by President Donald Trump just before he left office.

A former manager of the Wu-Tang Clan was also found to be a former government informant. Michael Caruso, also known as Lord Michael, turned state’s evidence in 1998 on his former friend and ex-boss Peter Gatien, the owner of the famous New York City nightclub Limelight, according to the Village Voice. Gatien was also found to be dealing drugs. Caruso reinvented himself as the manager of Wu-Tang member Cappadonna, who was unaware of his FBI ties.