Drug War Disaster: Student Busted for Pot Abandoned in Cell, Forced to Drink Own Urine to Survive
LOS ANGELES — US drug-busting authorities apologized to a student who said he was driven to drinking his own urine and trying to kill himself after being abandoned in a cell for five days.
Daniel Chong, 23, was mistakenly left in a cell in San Diego after being arrested with eight other people on April 21 in raid in which Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents seized guns, ammunition and drugs.
The University of California (UC) student has filed a claim seeking $20 million in compensation after the "life-altering" incident, in which he says he was left in a tiny 5 ft. by 10 ft. cell, broadcaster NBC reported.
Lacking food or drink, he decided to drink his own urine. He also ingested a powdery substance found inside the cell, which was later revealed to be a methamphetamine.
"I had to do what I had to do to survive. I hallucinated by the third day," he told NBC, adding that he lost 15 pounds (7 kg) during the ordeal. "I was completely insane."
Chong tried to take his own life by breaking the glass from his glasses and attempting to carve "Sorry mom," on his arm. Nurses later found pieces of glass in his throat, leading him to believe he swallowed the shards.
The DEA confirmed details of the incident, in a statement emailed to AFP.
"The individual in question was at the house, by his own admission, to get high with his friends. All defendants were brought back to the DEA office to be fingerprinted, photographed, and interviewed.
"While being processed, the suspects were moved around the five cells at the DEA facility. Each suspect was interviewed in separate interview rooms, and frequently moved around between rooms and cells.
It added: "Seven suspects were brought to county detention after processing, one was released and the individual in question was accidentally left in one of the cells."
DEA San Diego Acting Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman added: "I am deeply troubled by the incident that occurred here last week.
"I extend my deepest apologies to the young man and want to express that this event is not indicative of the high standards that I hold my employees to. I have personally ordered an extensive review of our policies and procedures."
Chong told NBC he was mystified at how they could have simply forgotten him. "They never came back, ignored all my cries and I still don't know what happened," he said.
"I'm not sure how they could forget me."