top of page

The Rise and Fall of Miami’s Infamous Kingpin, "Turnpike Ike"

In the chronicles of Miami's storied history, few names evoke as much intrigue and notoriety as Isaac “Big Ike” Hicks, better known as "Turnpike Ike." A towering figure in the underworld, Ike's reign as one of the city's biggest kingpins left an indelible mark on the landscape of organized crime, with ties reaching directly to the infamous Griselda Blanco. But behind the glitz and glamour of Miami's nightlife lay a dark and tumultuous tale of power, betrayal, and ultimately, downfall.

At the height of his empire, Ike held sway not only over Miami but had Florida itself firmly in his grasp. Alongside legendary figures like Rickey Brownlee and Convertible Burt, Ike emerged as a dominant force in the world of narcotics, with his name striking fear into the hearts of rivals and law enforcement alike.

Central to Ike's rise was his partnership with James “Bossman” Sawyer, his former bodyguard turned protege. Under Ike's tutelage, Bossman carved out his own lucrative operation, further bolstering Ike's stranglehold on the region. Together, they were an unstoppable force, amassing wealth and power beyond measure.


Fueling Ike's empire was his formidable cocaine trade, which raked in millions of dollars monthly. With his newfound riches, Ike diversified his investments, venturing into the construction business, where he built homes across Dade County. Yet, it was not just Ike's financial success that earned him respect; it was his reputation for generosity and diplomacy that solidified his status as a man of influence in Miami's underworld.


But as is often the case in the world of crime, success was fleeting. In 1987, law enforcement finally caught up with Ike, thanks in part to a housemaid turned informant who divulged crucial information to authorities. In a dramatic turn of events, authorities seized a staggering haul of contraband from Ike's possession, including cash, jewelry, and a significant quantity of cocaine.

Both Ike and Bossman found themselves facing the full force of the law, with Ike receiving a staggering 137-year prison sentence, while Bossman was sentenced to 56 years behind bars. Despite their efforts to contest the charges, their fate was sealed, and they were condemned to spend the rest of their days incarcerated.


For Ike, the story would take a tragic turn as he succumbed to complications from untreated HIV, allegedly contracted from his wife Janet. His passing marked the end of an era, leaving behind a legacy of crime and infamy that continues to fascinate and intrigue to this day.


As for Bossman, after serving 20 years of his sentence, he has since been released, a testament to the enduring allure and complexity of Miami's criminal underworld. Yet, the tale of Isaac “Big Ike” Hicks, the enigmatic "Turnpike Ike," remains etched in the annals of Miami's history, a cautionary tale of the perils of power and the inevitability of downfall in a world built on crime and corruption.

30 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page