The now-incarcerated leader of the drug organization that bears his name, Barksdale grew up in the Terrace high-rises and managed to avoid arrest, remaining a furtive but increasingly powerful force in the Westside drug trade. Eventually targeted by homicide Det. Jimmy McNulty, who was beaten in a murder case in which Barksdale operatives intimated state witnesses, Barksdale soon found himself jailed as a result of a prolonged probe by Daniels's detail. Having manipulated state prison authorities into granting his early parole, Barksdale returned to the streets within two years and began reestablishing himself, going to war against a rival crew led by a young insurgent, Marlo Stanfield.
That war ended when Barksdale was betrayed by his No. 2, Stringer Bell, who feared the violence would destroy his efforts to reform the drug trade and emerge as a legitimate businessman. Bell hoped to return Barksdale to prison for perhaps five years and thereby save the organization itself; instead - and after Bell's death - police raided Barksdale's wartime safehouse on a tip and were able to put weapons and conspiracy charges on all of those arrested. Barksdale has five years remaining on his parole backup from the earlier charge. In addition, weapons and conspiracy charges have added another twenty-five years to that sentence.