Crime

Accused ‘lean’ drink mastermind tied to rapper Chris Brown pleads not guilty

Harrison Garcia, 26, accused of masterminding pharmacy heists to produce a drink known as “lean,” appeared in Miami-Dade court on Tuesday.
Harrison Garcia, 26, accused of masterminding pharmacy heists to produce a drink known as “lean,” appeared in Miami-Dade court on Tuesday.

A Miami hip-hop producer accused of masterminding South Florida pharmacy heists to produce a potent drink known as “lean” pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in state court.

Harrison Garcia, who calls himself Cuban Harry and the “CEO of Purple Drank,” appeared Tuesday in Miami-Dade court on a charge of illegally possessing prescription-strength cough syrup during a traffic stop in Hialeah.

Garcia has yet to appear in a Broward court to face more serious allegations — that he directed a crew of young men to bust into Walgreens and CVS stores to steal codeine-infused cough syrup generally mixed with sweet soda and popular among hip-hop stars.

In Broward, the 26-year-old Garcia is facing charges of racketeering, grand theft and trafficking in illegal drugs. He will join the pending trials of three men and a woman facing prosecution for dozens of pharmacy burglaries stretching from Plantation to Homestead.

In the less-serious Miami-Dade case, prosecutors on Tuesday offered him credit for the time in jail he has already served, in exchange for a guilty plea.

He declined the offer and asked for a trial. His Miami defense attorney, Ted Mastos, did not appear in court and could not be reached for comment.

Garcia, an associate of rappers Chris Brown and Lil’ Wayne, was a fixture on the international hip-hop scene, jet-setting with the big-name stars, driving exotic cars and posing with bundles of cash on social media.

He is also facing separate federal charges of illegally selling the prescription-strength syrup of promethazine with codeine. In October, agents accused him of using his Instagram account — which boasts more than 37,000 followers — to set up deals to sell the drink that is popular among some club-goers.

Variations of the drink have become popular in hip-hop imagery and songs over the past decade, with rappers such as Lil’ Wayne, Young Thug and Future dropping odes to the concoction. But health experts warn the drink, which some have dubbed “liquid heroin,” poses serious risks.

Garcia’s “lean” use wasn’t exactly low-profile. His Instagram account features “lean” in the screen name and he frequently posted photos of disposable cups and Fanta soda used in the potent concoction.

His social media pages also displayed a lifestyle straight out of a rap video. He proudly shows off flashy gold chains, jewel-encrusted teeth and a gallery of large tattoos, including one of the fictional drug kingpin Scarface flashing an assault rifle.

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