Tomas Benson, Alleged to be Tagger 'Ruets,' Wanted: Deputies Say Graffiti Crew Members Like Him 'Pass Themselves Off as Artists'
Authorities are searching for a graffiti tagger they say has ties to noted artist Revok.
Tomas Benson, 28, paints under the moniker Ruets and has ties to Mad Society Kings, a group described by sheriff's officials as a tagging crew to which Revok, featured in the wildly successful spring and summer show "Art in the Streets" at MOCA, also allegedly belongs.
Deputies allege that Benson has done $8,000 worth of graffiti damage to public property, including Metro locations, and they went looking for him at his residence in Highland Park last week. But ...
... he wasn't there. Now, officials say, he's a wanted man.
They searched Benson's residence in the 600 block of Oleander Drive on Wednesday, according to a sheiff's department statement.
View Larger Map
Deputies say evidence found at his pad "confirmed ... his activities as they relate to illegal graffiti tagging."
Benson has membership in few crews, authorities said, including: AL (At Large), PDB (Pros Don't Boast), and NE (NorthEast). Sheriff's Transit Services Bureau lead Det. Michael Thibodeaux also links him to Revok, who was arrested in spring:
MSK (Mad Society Kings) is a tagging crew that we know to have ties to several other crews here in L.A., including those that Benson is a part of. We believe a tagger, Jason Williams, who uses the tagger moniker REVOK, is a leading figure in the MSK crew.
And sheriff's officials used the occasion to blast the respect that some graffiti artists get in the gallery scene. Det. Sgt. Ron Marquez:
These suspects are in their 20's and 30's. They are adults who pass themselves off as artists when in reality they're criminals who commit vandalism crimes that cost property owners and taxpayers a lot of money to clean up.
Revok was arrested in spring after trying to get on a plane to Ireland at LAX. Authorities said he had failed to pay restitution to victims stemming from a vandalism conviction.
Street-art advocates said authorities were using Revok to make a case against "Art in the Streets," which ended up being MOCA's most-attended show ever. The internationally celebrated exhibition featured graffiti-inspired art and hip-hop-flavored murals.
Deputies want you to call them if you've spotted Benson recently: 888-950-7233.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.