The uncle was Christopher McFarlane, who had spent fifteen years funneling $20 million worth of cocaine through the Kansas City metro as part of the Jamaican Waterhouse Posse, a violent network named for a neighborhood in the island's capital, Kingston. One of McFarlane's nephews busted that day was a midlevel drug dealer who regularly bought large amounts of cocaine from him and sold it in Topeka.
The other nephew with McFarlane in the parking lot at Rudy's was a University of Kansas football player named Tywanne Aldridge. By most accounts, Tywanne's worst offenses until then had been making a fake ID for an underage friend and eating some 'shrooms with his buddies at Worlds of Fun one night.
By the time their trial was over almost a year later, two of Tywanne's dealer cousins (one of whom was arrested a few months after the Rudy's bust) had been acquitted. Their uncle McFarlane, courted by prosecutors for the juicy information he could offer about the international drug trade, had bargained for a reduced sentence of nine years. But Tywanne, who had just graduated with a degree in cellular biology, faced so much prison time that he panicked and fled the country.
When federal agents caught him this summer, with help from Spain's national police, he was living an enviable life in a popular tourist spot -- getting paid to play for the Drags football team on the outskirts of Barcelona near the Mediterranean coast. Now Tywanne sits in federal prison and likely won't get out until he's nearly forty.
Tywanne's friends say he spent his life trying to get away from drugs. But that was impossible once he got to know Dominic Castaneda, a government informant who was apparently eager to whittle down his own ten years-to-life sentence any way he could.
By the time Tywanne started playing football for KU, he had been immersed in drug culture for so long that he could talk just like a dealer. But around his athlete friends, the guys with whom he spent most of his time, he was a well-spoken student who took his health so seriously that he wouldn't drink soda.
One friend remembers stopping by McFarlane's house one day with Tywanne and noticing the big-screen TV and lots of electronics and nice furniture.
"What's your uncle do?" the friend asked.
"Aw, you don't want to know. Nothing, man," Tywanne answered.
Years earlier, McFarlane had introduced a constant supply of drugs into the Aldridge family's life.
Stacy Aldridge had gotten pregnant with Tywanne when she was just fourteen years old -- the result of one drunken night at a high school party, she tells the Pitch. Tywanne's father, an older friend of Stacy's, left town and joined the Marines not knowing about her pregnancy. Even after he found out, more than a year later, he didn't have much to do with his son. By the time Tywanne was in elementary school, Stacy had a steady job operating a forklift at T&T Popcorn, a small factory near the railroad tracks on the northeast edge of Lawrence. Her life was looking pretty good, all things considered, when she started dating a man who used drugs. Before long, she was getting high with him, she says.