Los Angeles undercover detectives posing as drug dealers launched the first phase of a new crackdown on skid row’s massive drug marketplace yesterday by arresting 14 buyers, including a Hollywood actor, says the Los Angeles Times. The officers masqueraded as street dealers in scruffy clothing as they lured unsuspecting buyers to purchase balloons filled with fake heroin. Among those held was actor Brad Renfro, who has appeared in such films as “The Client,” “Apt Pupil,” and “Ghost World.”
The Los Angeles Police Department invited several reporters to cover the operation in hopes that the publicity would make people think twice before purchasing drugs downtown. The arrests pushed total drug bookings in and around skid row above the 6,000 mark this year. The area accounts for up to 20 percent of all drug crimes in the city. The crackdown is part of a campaign by city and state leaders that includes stiffening penalties for drug sales within skid row and a community court that can quickly handle criminal cases.