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Federal Drug Crimes and TV Stars

The HBO series "The Wire" was critically acclaimed for its accuracy and unflinching honesty in portraying police and a host of characters caught up in inner city Baltimore life. One of the actors from the show, Felicia "Snoop" Pearson has probably seen as much of the criminal justice system as she cares to. She was arrested with more than 60 other people this time last year as part of a federal drug crime investigation known as "Operation Usual Suspects." The massive investigation took place over the course of years and involved wiretaps, confidential informants, surveillance and undercover work. It involved multiple parties in multiple states up and down the East Coast. To date, more than 20 people have pleaded guilty and at least 7 have been sentenced to years in prison for their roles in the heroin trade.

Federal prosecutors spent enormous amounts of money and time tracking this heroin ring from street level dealers to suppliers several steps removed. While the case provides an in depth look at the techniques used to investigate crimes, it should also serve as a reminder of how far police and prosecutors will go to bring charges against an individual or group if they suspect a connection to drugs.

Snoop Pearson has been described as a relatively minor player in this matter. She received probation and a suspended sentence for her role in the heroin conspiracy. Her name helped to shine a light on a case and on a culture through the eyes of police and prosecutors. How accurate that picture is can be debated.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Case offers look into drug ring involving 'Snoop' of 'The Wire'," by Peter Hermann, 5 March 2012

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