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Thirteen Arrested by Task Force at 7th and Main

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, July 28, 2010, at 05:33PM
LAPD Night Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Police tape blocks off the intersection of 7th and Main on May 21, the night a 50-year-old man was shot at the corner.

A task force focused on narcotics sales near the corner of 7th and Main early Tuesday morning netted the arrests of three dealers, seven buyers and three others with outstanding warrants.

The special enforcement action was taken in response to three shootings that have taken place at the corner since May. "This is only one of a number of things we've done," explained Lieutenant Paul Vernon, head of detectives for Central Division.

Arrested for possession with the intent to sell were Kyle Smith, 20, of Long Beach; Deondre Washington, 29, who claimed to be homeless; and Charles Madison, 63, of South Los Angeles.

All had prior felony convictions. Vernon described Smith and Washington as being members of rival gangs. Madison has a 27-page rap sheet, which includes both drugs and burglary.

“These arrests confirm several things we had surmised: the drug dealers are not living downtown; gang rivalries are often left at home; and the sellers are career criminals,” Lt. Vernon said.

While he acknowledged that other dealers may quickly move in to fill the void left by these arrests, Vernon said that he hoped there might be a change. "Sometimes, all you have to do is go and find two or three people in an area like this who are causing the trouble," he explained.

After making the three arrests, undercover officers positioned themselves on the corner selling fake narcotics. They made seven arrests, either for possession or attempted possession.

“It’s against the law to solicit to buy illicit drugs, so this is a way for us to cut into the drug buyers’ population, too,” Lt. Vernon said. “If they become afraid the next dealer is a cop, they may go somewhere else.”

No guns were found on any of the 13 arrested.

In comments on a story about the corner published Monday on blogdowntown, readers had expressed frustration that arrests like the ones made Tuesday had not taken place. Vernon said today that the department will continue its efforts on the corner.

In that earlier story, Vernon had pointed the finger at the Huntington Hotel as a source of much of the corner's issues. None of the men arrested had a connection to the hotel, and a check of the hotel registry showed only one guest on parole or probation. "That’s a good bit of news for all of us. It shows the hotel has tightened up its security operations and is not now as much a harbor for criminals,” Lt. Vernon said.

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