A self-proclaimed homeless advocate was arrested in the Venice area of Los Angeles after he was allegedly found selling narcotics to the homeless population, officials said Friday.
Garry Featherstone, 65, was allegedly using a tent along near the “Venice Bridge Home” transitional housing to sell narcotics, according to a news release from Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
He runs “Homeless Enterprise” from a tent on Third Avenue where he sells sodas candy, and other snacks and beverages to the local homeless population, the Sheriff’s Department said. “Homeless Enterprise” is registered with the city of Los Angeles Finance Department.
“This is another clear example of how several people are using the veil of outreach to run criminal enterprises and exploit the already marginalized population of county residents who are experiencing homelessness,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
The sheriff’s Narcotics Bureau launched an investigation after receiving information of a potential narcotics dealer who had disguised himself as a homeless outreach advocate, the release said.
During their many hours of surveillance, investigators saw Featherstone conduct several “hand-to-hand narcotics transactions.”
On July 22, investigators searched a tent along Third Avenue and Rose Street, as well as a home in the Venice area, and arrested Featherstone on suspicion of phencyclidine (PCP) and methamphetamine possession. More than $15,000 was also discovered, officials said.
“It’s time for common sense, compassionate regulation of public space. It’s time for politicians to stop using the homeless population as a platform and for them to either help law enforcement keep the community safe or get out of the way,” Villanueva said.