Book Review: Operation Fly Trap; L.A. Gangs, Drugs, and the Law
Operation Fly Trap was written by Susan A. Phillips, published in 2012 by the University of Chicago Press. Phillips received her Ph.D. in anthropology in 1998 from UCLA. She is interested in theories of violence, in the relationship between gangs and the state, and in utilizing academic writing and scholarship toward criminal justice reform (Susan). All of these intriguing interests led her to write Operation Fly Trap. However, all of this wouldn’t be possible without the help she received from the Harry Guggenheim Foundation award. That grant helped her begin her fieldwork in 2005. Her fieldwork was conducted in the Pueblos neighborhood in Los Angeles, this is where she got inside information from the gang members themselves. She also studied from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), here she befriended a couple of FBI agents that were in charge of Operation Fly Trap. All of this fieldwork paved her way in writing a very objective book. She received individually received both sides of the issue and wrote this book to give her point of view on the subject. In her fieldwork she would study the effects of the justice department and the consequence it has on the community and family of the criminals involved. The time she spent on the inside, with the people of the gangs and the lives they lead, would lead Phillips to question both the success of this operation and the methods used to conduct it (Phillips 175).
Los Angeles was struck with dramatic economical times, the economy was unraveling in every way possible. The economy was hurt by the oil crisis, depreciating international dollar, dwindle of union jobs, bifurcation of the manufacturing sector, and an unchanging education system (Phillips 7). All of these factors would be reasons of why a good working class citizen would turn to dealing drugs, being a member of a gang, and/or using drugs. Drug money was “easy money” as one would...
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