Letters from the Issue of , 2002

Italian food, paid mercenaries, and crackhead Santas

Marc David Sarnoff

Coconut Grove

To Santa and His Crackhead Cronies

We'll nab you and we'll arrest you as often as possible: I read with interest and amusement Francisco Alvarado's article about the trials and tribulations of "Santa Claus" (a.k.a. Anthony Gregory) as he made his way through everyday life in the big city ("Crack Kills," January 27). This letter is addressed to all the "Santas," reindeer, and elves who think there is some sort of glamour in popping a glass stem into their mouths and sucking the hell out of a crack rock.

First I'd like to clarify something "Santa" spewed during his tirade against undercover cops. As the tactical commander for the Miami Police Department's crime suppression unit, I was pleased to hear that "Santa" had walked right by one of my undercover cops in some dope hole and was amazed later when he found out that the "scrawny" guy who said "Wassup" to him was actually a cop. That is our job -- to blend in with the law-breaking dregs and gather enough probable cause to make an arrest.

In the world of narcotics supply and demand, much like prostitution, it is probably most effective to shut down the dealers. But in order to be truly successful, you must also attack the demand side by doing reverse drug stings and "john" stings. If the buyers and johns fear that a certain area is a haven for police undercover details, then perhaps they may move to the next dope hole. Sometimes we will watch John Doe sell dope to numerous people. We stop the buyers on their way out of the area. Most of them still have the narcotics in their hands. A few, like "Santa," will swallow the evidence. Once the buyers are arrested and evidence recovered, we blitz the drug hole and gather up the seller and his lookouts -- a one-two punch. The area simmers down then starts up again hours or days later.

We must continue our assault on these areas with regularity in an effort to keep drug-related violence to a minimum. If these drug holes go unchecked, sooner or later territorial gun fights will erupt. It is my job to ensure this does not happen.

Every time we hit a dope hole and successfully remove the seller and his clientele, burglary and theft reports go down in that area. Where do you think "Santa" and his cronies get their money to support their habits? It ain't coming from hitting the daily double at Calder!

My message to "Santa" is this: The Miami Police Department's crime suppression unit will determine who's been naughty and who's been nice. If "Santa" is seen buying drugs in areas we're watching, he will be arrested.

David Magnusson


Santa's Weird World

It's all the more strange because he seems to be decent: The article "Crack Kills" touched me for several reasons. As the product of a stable, middle-class family, I squirmed at the description of "Santa's" alien lifestyle. Even though I spent 40 years dodging the homeless around UM's medical school, I never got used to seeing the poverty, disease, and deprivation.

I can swear with the best of them (and often do), but this article was so raw because Alvarado frequently used street talk. I could not mentally avoid the scene because it was in my face. The only alternative was to stop reading, but I was hooked on the story with a voyeur's curiosity.

Most disturbing was the fact that "Santa" seems like a decent, caring guy who somehow got lost. That really bothered me. It is such a waste because there are rotten people doing much better. I can only hope that he is happy and his life is the result of his own choice, but I fear "Santa" is the victim of addiction and floats wherever it takes him. Addiction ruins too many people.

Dr. Patricia Wade


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