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Drug Busts and Pimps: Readers React

The Cops Cometh

Readers were horrified by Katie Bain's piece about undercover cops prowling the Lightning in a Bottle music festival in Temecula ("Lightning in a Bottle Busts," Aug. 2). Fifty-eight festivalgoers were arrested — many charged not just with drug possession but also its sale, after undercover cops pestered them for pot and then stuffed cash in their hands.

Writes Birdie2, "This was such an incredible waste of resources. Why are the DEA and Riverside County funding an operation to badger productive young men into giving them a beer or a bud, just so they can treat them like criminals? This was a completely misguided, ill-conceived and really horrible use of our tax dollars. Riverside, get it together."

Emmao Idaten repeats the attorney quoted in the story, who told Bain, "It's only entrapment if they use tactics that would convince an otherwise law-abiding person to commit the offense. Those arrested had illegal drugs, so the entrapment defense doesn't fly." He writes, "This logic doesn't really follow. The cops were nagging, bullying people into trying to sell them drugs. That definitely counts as 'coercion.' Perhaps those arrested for sales may get their charges changed to possession charges, but most of them sure as hell weren't 'selling.' Not to mention most of the people arrested for sales weren't even accepting money — a lot of people had bills thrown at them before they were jumped by the clownishly overzealous local cops."

Rhartman2003 writes, "I'll bet that anyone thinking of putting on events for young people in Riverside County is thinking twice about it now. What will happen to the economy there as young people with money vote with their feet by coming to Los Angeles? I hope the grant money is worth it to [Riverside], because they won't be getting much in the way of private spending."

Big Pimpin'

Mail continued to stream in responding to Gene Maddaus' July 26 cover story about the Valley pimp who masterminded a string of successful bank robberies ("The Case of the Starlet Bandits"). Mark J. Featherstone writes, "Intrigue. Money. Deception. The only thing I loathed about Gene Maddaus' terrific piece was the fact that I can't see the movie version in theaters anytime soon. Let's all cross our fingers and hope those bright young Hollywood exec types grab a copy of the Weekly and concoct a workable screenplay. Anything is better than the recent slate of sequel drivel in theaters these days."

But another reader, who gives his name only as "Another Male Miffed at Maddaus," writes, "Gene Maddaus' prior investigative reporting articles were one reason I read the L.A. Weekly. That may now change. 'The Case of the Starlet Bandits' and the accompanying cover illustration is pure sensationalism. It also gives a male exploiter of women his long-desired publicity, and even offers tips to any bank robber wannabe on how to do it. What a waste of Maddaus' talent and column inches for your paper."

You Write, We Read

Please send letters to L.A. Weekly, 3861 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Or write us at ReadersWrite@laweekly.com. Full name and contact info preferred.


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