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New Orleans 'Crackhouse' Promoters' Case Aimed at Entire Club Industry

Author: Skruff
Monday, April 16, 2001
US authorities attempts to brand New Orleans State Palace Theatre a 'crack-house' are intended to shut down 'raves' across the entire USA, DEA special agent George Cazenavetta 3rd told Newsweek last week, confirming that the DEA had decided on their strategy early last year. "The city had an ecstasy problem, but if authorities targeted the dealers "they'd be out before the ink was dry," said Cazenavetta. 'It made more sense to try to shut down raves," Newsweek continued, "which had migrated from the underground warehouse scene to publicized venues featuring nationally renowned DJs, in no small part (Cazenavetta claims) because of Donnie Estopinal."

"What's new about this drug-war strategy is that it does not require the government to show that the defendants--brothers Robert and Brian Brunet, who managed the State Palace, and Donnie Estopinal, who promoted its raves--were actually selling drugs," Time magazine explained. "Rather, U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan plans to argue that the defendants looked the other way."

Time appeared sympathetic to the under-threat promoters, pointing out that the venue regularly experienced more problems with rock gigs. "The dancers didn't fight or break limbs like alt-rock's moshers," said Time. "Instead, they created a warm atmosphere, welcoming overweight teens, 30-year-olds toting Powerpuff Girls backpacks and nerds who hated their college Greek scene. Some would drive for hours from Alabama or Arkansas. They would tell Rob that the events had changed their lives. No Dave Matthews fan said that."

The three promoters face minimum 20 year jail sentences if convicted with most allegations coming from undercover DEA agent Michael Templeton. However, the 'baby-faced' investigator, as well as citing bottled water and glo sticks as proof of guilt, even suggested dancers touching each other indicated drug use. "It's common, he wrote, "for persons involved in rave management to allow patrons to touch and massage one another to enhance the heightened sensory perception to palpation created by the use of [ecstasy]." (Time magazine).

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