Alberto “Alpo” Martinez, the inspiration behind Cam’ron’s character Rico in the 2002 film Paid In Full, was gunned down in a hail of bullets during a drive-by shooting early Sunday morning (Oct. 31) on the same Harlem streets where he once reigned king.
According to the New York Post, the former drug kingpin was sitting in his vehicle around 3:20 a.m. after leaving an after-hours club on West 147th Street near Frederick Douglass Blvd, when a vehicle passing by fired several shots into the driver’s side of the car, hitting Martinez multiple times in the chest. EMS attempted to rush Martinez to Harlem Hospital, however, he was pronounced dead on arrival. Martinez was 55 years old at the time of his death.
Martinez gained infamy during the late ’80s as one of the most powerful and stylish hustlers in New York City during the height of the crack epidemic. He partnered with fellow Harlem street legends Azie Faison and Rich Porter during this period, the latter of whom he murdered due to a drug dispute.
Expanding his operation to Washington, D.C., Martinez was arrested in 1991 on federal charges that included conspiracy to commit murder, various drug charges, and 14 counts of murder, including the murder of D.C. drug dealer Michael Anthony Salters and Brooklyn drug dealer Demencio Benson. Martinez ultimately became a federal informant, testifying against various members of his organization, most notably Washington, D.C. street legend Wayne “Silk” Perry, his enforcer and hitman, who was sentenced to five life sentences without the possibility of parole for various murders committed at Martinez’s behest.
Martinez’s testimony helped him avoid the death penalty and he received a reduced sentence of 35 years in federal prison. He was released from WITSEC FCI federal prison in Fremont County, Col. in 2015, after which he returned to Harlem following his departure from the Witness Protection Program.