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Snoop's comeback from the streets leads back

She made it out of despair, poverty, drugs and crime. But if the feds are right, Felicia "Snoop" Pearson's fame was fleeting -- just a bit longer than her role on The Wire as a ruthless killer. The actress who captivated many on the hit show that portrays Baltimore's underworld was arrested Thursday in a sweeping drug sting by city police and the DEA.

The Sun's Justin Fenton, who accompanied the cops on the raids and 63 busts (picture of Pearson at left is by The Sun's Kim Hairston), and Mary Carole McCauley, give eye-opening accounts of yesterday's police actions and a portrait of an actress whose life seems to mirror they very show that gave her a break.

"I thought she was going to have a happy ending," said Pat Moran, a casting director. Pearson had been in trouble before -- she committed murder at the age of 14, and then refused to testify in a stabbing case, and now this.

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She had written a book about her troubled life called "Grace Under Pressure," and she had participated in the Stoop Storytelling series in which locals recounted tales from Baltimore before a theater audience. Thursday's drug operation was dubbed "Usual Suspects."

Those who knew Pearson had hoped she would not be one.

Read an account of the drug bust and Felica Pearson's sad trajectory from the streets to the screen and back to the streets. Below is a statement from David Simon, the former Sun reporter who produced The Wire for HBO:

Snoop's comeback from the streets leads back

What follows is a personal statement from David Simon, Creator and Executive Producer of "The Wire" (and currently in production on "Treme").

First of all, Felicia's entitled to the presumption of innocence. And I would note that a previous, but recent drug arrest that targeted her was later found to be unwarranted and the charges were dropped. Nonetheless, I'm certainly sad at the news today. This young lady has, from her earliest moments, had one of the hardest lives imaginable. And whatever good fortune came from her role in 'The Wire' seems, in retrospect, limited to that project. She worked hard as an actor and was entirely professional, but the entertainment industry as a whole does not offer a great many roles for those who can portray people from the other America. There are, in fact, relatively few stories told about the other America.

Beyond that, I am waiting to see whether the charges against Felicia relate to heroin or marijuana. Obviously, the former would be, to my mind, a far more serious matter. And further, I am waiting to see if the charges or statement of facts offered by the government reflect any involvement with acts of violence, which would of course be of much greater concern.

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In an essay published two years ago in Time Magazine, the writers of 'The Wire' made the argument that we believe the war on drugs has devolved into a war on the underclass, that in places like West and East Baltimore, where the drug economy is now the only factory still hiring and where the educational system is so crippled that the vast majority of children are trained only for the corners, a legal campaign to imprison our most vulnerable and damaged citizens is little more than amoral. And we said then that if asked to serve on any jury considering a non-violent drug offense, we would move to nullify that jury's verdict and vote to acquit. Regardless of the defendant, I still believe such a course of action would be just in any case in which drug offenses -- absent proof of violent acts -- are alleged.

Both our Constitution and our common law guaranty that we will be judged by our peers. But in truth, there are now two Americas, politically and economically distinct. I, for one, do not qualify as a peer to Felicia Pearson. The opportunities and experiences of her life do not correspond in any way with my own, and her America is different from my own. I am therefore ill-equipped to be her judge in this matter.

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