Drugs

The Story That Nails the Arrogance & Stupidity of the Drug War

There is no excuse for the DEA to entangle an innocent businessman in its toils—but it did.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/ Simeon Chatzilidis

Every so often, powerful government officials pull a stunt so arrogant and stupid you have to wonder whether they've lost their minds.

 Such was the case in a lawsuit filed in Houston this week against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Courthouse News reporter Cameron Langford wrote in his Thursday story: "DEA officials 'commandeered' a small businessman's truck and left him to pay for the damage after it was 'shot to smithereens' in a shootout between federal agents and the Zeta drug cartel."

That's right: Without telling the businessman, who owned two trucks, the DEA arranged for him to hire an undercover snitch to drive a load of dope in one. But the Zetas got wise, shot the truck to pieces, killing the snitch and wounding a sheriff's deputy - and the DEA stuck the businessman with the bill for the bullet-riddled truck.

Then the DEA had the brass to demand to search the poor businessman's house.

No one who has had to deal with the DEA will doubt this story. It reminds me of a man I met when I worked as a paralegal inside U.S. immigration prisons.

This fellow had a signed letter from a death squad threatening to kill him for working with the DEA, but I couldn't help him apply for political asylum.

This was in the 1980s, when the Reagan administration was arming, training and covering up for death squads who were murdering and torturing to death thousands of innocent people in Central America.

The fellow with the letter from the death squad was not innocent. He was a drug dealer. He told me so. The DEA got him busted in his home country and turned him into a snitch. With his help, the DEA intercepted a ship carrying more than 1,000 tonsof marijuana, then blew his cover and left him at the mercy of the cartels.

He fled to the United States, was busted by the Border Patrol and sent to an immigration prison, where he told me his tale.

He showed me the letter from the death squad, which stated clearly, in Spanish, that they would kill him for working with the DEA. He saved the envelope, too, with the postmark. He showed me two newspaper articles about the bust of the ship.

There was no question that the DEA had turned this guy and then thrown him to the sharks.

I couldn't help him because he didn't qualify for political asylum. He was a criminal.

I told his story to our attorneys and asked if there was anything we could do for him, as he was a dead man in his home country.

The next day, news of the Iran Contra scandal broke, and the DEA snitch got lost in the shuffle. I don't know what happened to him.

Also lost in the shuffle, by a spineless U.S. press, was that Uncle Sam's criminal intermediaries were allowed to fly planeloads of cocaine and marijuana to the United States after the CIA contract planes had been emptied of missiles for the ayatollah.

This was a key element of the Iran Contra deals, but practically no one remembers it, or was informed of it at the time.

I have no beef with the frontline agents of the DEA. They are brave men and women. They risk their lives every day dealing with murderous scumballs. If they turn the scumballs into snitches on their bosses, so be it.

But there is no excuse for the DEA to entangle an innocent businessman in its toils, at the cost of half of his "fleet" of trucks; nor to make him pay to repair his truck after the DEA-inspired bloodbath; nor to endanger his life because the shootout, which made the evening news, made him, according to the federal lawsuit, "fear, of course, that his identity would be discovered by the Zeta cartel and that they, believing he had cooperated with ... the Task Force, might seek retribution."

It's arrogance and stupidity like this that is making the United States hated around the world, and now, even at home.