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ARMED COPS IN SNOOP SWOOP; DRAMA AND GLAMOUR AT BET AWARDS IN LA.

Byline: RICK FULTON

BAD-BOY rapper Snoop Dogg faces up to 10 years in prison after police arrested his armed bodyguards.

The drama happened while the 30-year-old gangsta rapper was being presented with the Best Hip Hop Artist gong at the Black Enter- tainment TV Awards in Los Angeles last night.

LA law means convicted criminals cannot employ armed security.

Snoop - real name Calvin Broadus - served time in jail on cocaine charges after leaving school and since then trouble has never been far away.

In 1993, he was charged with being an accomplice to murder following a drive- by shooting, although he was eventually acquitted after claiming he acted in self-defence.

Snoop's fame was founded on his raps about violence and drug use.

But he announced he had stopped using dope last year, saying: "I'm high on life.

"I want to get back to being me."

LAPD officers carrying rifles led 13 men away in handcuffs from outside the Kodak Theatre awards venue last night after receiving a tip- off they were carrying guns.

Three were charged but at least one of the bodyguards was later released.

Several weapons, bullet-proof vests and three vehicles, including an armoured truck, were also impounded.

Last night, LAPD deputy chief Mike Hillmann refused to confirm if Snoop would be questioned.

He would only say: "We believe the vehicle is under contract or owned by an ex-convicted felon. I'm not at liberty to discuss who that might be."

Snoop, who is currently filming the movie remake of hit 70s TV cop show Starsky and Hutch, is reported to have been travelling in an armoured convoy since narrowly escaping death in a shoot- out in April.

One of his minders - an off-duty policeman - survived being shot in the back after a car pulled up and fired a hail of bullets at the rapper's convoy.

Three men were later arrested.

Last night's case has now been turned over to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms department of the US government. ATF officer Joe Gordon explained the conditions under which Snoop might now be arrested.

He said: "If someone were a convicted felon and knowingly employed personnel armed with firearms to protect them and that person would be in immediate proximity, they would be in violation of the law."

Inside the theatre, the excitement was just as intense as BET presented their third annual awards.

Musicians, actors and athletes who had gathered for the celebration went wild as new rap phenomenon 50 Cent - named Best Male Hip Hop and Best New Artist - opened the show with a medley of his hits.

Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland cheered on bandmate Beyonce Knowles as she showcased her solo tunes.

B2K were another hit, winning Best Group and Viewers' Choice. They were chased on stage by all- girl dancers before performing their hits Girlfriend and Bump Bump Bump.

Other winners were R Kelly (Best Male RnB), India Arie (Best Female RnB), Missy Elliot (Best Female Hip Hop) and Snoop Dogg and Pharrell (Best Collaboration).

DJs DMC, Premiere, Grandmaster Flash, Jazzy Jeff and Kid Capri played a tribute to Run DMC's Jam Master Jay, who was shot dead earlier this year.

But the real star of the night was Godfather of Soul James Brown.

The 74-year-old showed he has lost none of his sparkle as he performed his greatest hits.

Long-time fan Michael Jackson turned up to help Brown put back on his signature cape and present his Lifetime Achievement gong.

The tearful, if not very modest, pop king said: "There is no way I could refuse to give out this award as no one loves me more than this man."

Jackson also used the occasion to make a rare appearance with his once- estranged sister, Latoya.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 26, 2003
Words:623
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