Fakin' The Funk: Bait Rap Cases in which Cops Create Fake Rap Businesses to Entrap Criminals

Posted by Billyjam, January 24, 2012 08:45am | Post a Comment
No doubt you're aware of Bait Car - the engaging popular reality TV show on the truTV channel that follows, via tiny hidden video cameras, the exploits of opportunist car thieves who can't pass up the temptation of an empty unlocked car with its engine idling & keys clearly in the ignition crying out "Steal Me!" Of course, as the show's title implies, it is merely bait laid out by police as part of an elaborate entrapment scheme. This entrapment approach as a means of catching "bad guys" has become increasingly more common by law enforcement agencies in recent years. Examples include the NYPD entrapment scheme in which the cops planted "drunks" asleep on subway benches apparently with their wallets or purses open to thieves. Another example that, like Bait Car made for good reality TV, was the predator entrapment practice that would become popular Chris Hansen hosted TV show To Catch A Predator. Two recent cases of entrapment, that would have made for some interesting TV viewing, are two specific cases by law enforcement that are stranger than fiction and each involved rap music as bait.  The two cases, both highly complex and involving approximately one year each, took place in Washington DC and in the UK one and four months ago respectively.  

As reported by several news and hip-hop outlets last month in Washington DC cops along with ATF agents wound up an intricate one year undercover sting operation that entailed agents posing as “music industry insiders” running a "fictional rap label" and amounted to authorities  making numerous arrests and confiscating over $7.2 million in drugs and 161 weapons. The DC sting, which began in November 2010 and went to great lengths to ensure results, involved D.C. police creating the Manic Enterprisess studio in Northeast Washington, even going so far as to create for the fictional label the fictional rap artist Richie Valdez. (Note that unfortunately - and oddly - no images or music reviews or website links seem to exist of this fake rapper.)  Next, reportedly, agents then told the underground world and black market that they were seeking to purchase weapons and drugs which resulted in money, drugs, and weapons: 161 firearms including a rocket launcher, 29 assault weapons, 80 pounds of methamphetamine, 21 pounds of cocaine, 1.25 gallons of PCP, 24 pounds of marijuana, and undisclosed amounts of heroin and ecstasy.

In addition to the seizures of drugs and weapons, police said that "many of the 70 suspects detained bragged about other crimes and reportedly stated they would kill police officers or other innocent people if necessary." Additionally the police said that undercover officers arrested one group of assailants in a preemptive attempt to stymie a robbery of the studio itself. The fictional recording studio was located at a rowhouse in Northeast Washington and was equipt with hidden audio and video equipment that aided in the sting operation that involved a fake rap company.

I thought this DC sting operation, that created an artist and a record label, couldn't be topped until I heard about the equally intricate UK sting operation in which cops created a fictional rap record store and, like the American sting, ran the manpower-heavy sting operation for one full year in which 652 police officers working the project resulted in the arrest 35 men. As reported by the Daily Mail newspaper back in September under the sensationalist newspaper headlines "The hip hop cop shop: Police opened fake rap music store and snared 30 gangsters for drugs and gun offences"  the sting was codenamed Operation Peyzac and the police operation cost about US$1million, and involved undercover officers posing as a fully-operating rap and hip hop music store in North London's Edmonton district. The record store was given the old school name of Boombox, and was fitted with a private back room which was used to carry out deals with drug and gun sellers, and the store was wired with CCTV and recording equipment.

Inside the store police officers posed as Boombox staff using the back room to secretly record criminals doing deals on drugs and weapons. Reportedly evidence from criminals led police to a gun conversion factory, swords, drugs and a stun gun and one gun found in a compost heap and resulted in those criminals arrested been jailed for a total of more than 400 years all combined. Boombox operated for more than 12 months and officers, who reportedly "were trained" in the rap music they were selling (that would have made for an interesting training session), were able to film the trading of firearms, ammunition and drugs. The faux record shop was strategically - according to cops - in an area of London where Colombian student Steven Grisales was knifed and killed, and where a 15-year-old boy was stabbed as he walked to Silver Street train station. According to police the  idea for Boombox came following a tip-off that gangs were operating in that neighborhood after five young men were murdered in nearby Enfield between January and July 2008, including four teenagers.

Police Superintendent Lucy D'Orsi said she was proud of the "out of the box thinking" that led to opening the shop allowing cops to infiltrate gangs in the crime-ridden area," noting that, "We looked at the age profile of the people we wanted to get intelligence out of and came up with the shop because it reflected their interests. As we got an increasing number of young people into the shop we had the idea of putting in a couple of sound booths where people could do recordings. There was one for vocals where people could rap or sing, and another for music. Eventually people came in offering drugs for sale, firearms for sale or stolen property for sale - a whole raft of stuff basically." Reportedly the arrests included one man, who they captured on CCTV, selling undercover police four guns and had traveled to the shop on a busy bus with the loaded weapons hidden in a plastic bag. Another arrested man was filmed handing over cocaine with a street value of approx $8000. All in all not only did Superintendent D'Orsi consider the UK sting operation a success but the police even managed to make the record shop a success of sorts announcing at the end of the operation that as a retail business Boombox turned a "negligible profit."

Relevant Tags

Rap Entrapment (1), Bait Rap (1), Police (3), Rap Music (6), Gangsta Rap (8)