"The Wire" actress arrested in Baltimore drug sweep

Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:33am EST
 
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Felicia Pearson, an ex-con who played a drug gangster named Snoop on the HBO television drama "The Wire," was one of dozens arrested in a real-life heroin trafficking bust announced on Thursday in Baltimore.

Pearson, charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, was one of 38 people arrested in the sweep and one of 64 defendants named in related state and federal indictments.

The raids by federal agents and Baltimore police "dismantled an entire drug trafficking organization," Ava Cooper-Davis, a special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said in a statement. "We got the top, we got the bottom and we got everybody in between."

The announcement made no specific mention of Pearson's alleged role, other than to list her as a defendant.

Pearson, now 30, delivered one of the more memorable supporting performances in "The Wire," portraying an androgynous, husky-voiced young assassin who went about her business with chilling nonchalance.

She was herself an acknowledged product of street life who had done time in prison before being cast on the "The Wire."

David Simon, creator of the show, said in a statement that Pearson has endured "one of the hardest lives imaginable. And whatever good fortune came from her role in 'The Wire' seems, in retrospect, limited to that project."

Set in Baltimore, the Emmy-nominated series dramatized the decay of an inner city from the point of view of drug dealers, police who pursued them, as well as politicians, teachers, and even reporters.

In his lengthy public statement, which was posted online by Slate.com, Simon argued that "the war on drugs has devolved into a war on the underclass."

He called the drug economy in downtrodden places like East Baltimore, where the heroin ring allegedly operated, "the only factory still hiring."

(Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Bohan)