A lawsuit filed in New Mexico this week accuses the Drug Enforcement Agency of paying a drug addict crack cocaine for undercover work.
According to the lawsuit filed in Albuquerque’s U.S. District Court Monday, five DEA agents confronted 38-year-old Aaron Romero, a recovering crack addict, in 2011 and offered him the drug in exchange for help with “Operation Smack City.” Succumbing to his addiction, Romero would be used to carry out drug deals in order to bring down an alleged Las Vegas drug ring.
Romero’s lawyer, Erlinda Ocampo Johnson, says the agents caused her client immense physical and emotional damage by taking advantage of his addiction.
“The United States government and the defendants affirmatively and intentionally established a pattern of distribution of crack cocaine to (Romero) in order to utilize his addiction to crack cocaine to further the investigation and to ‘stack drug related charges’ against him,” the lawsuit states.
Johnson also says the agents never obtained approval from prosecutors to work with Romero in the first place, making the recruitment a violation of DEA policy.
Despite assisting the agents, Romero was later charged with distribution of drugs in federal court, although the charges were eventually dropped several months later.
“He was targeted because he was a known drug addict,” Johnson told the Associated Press. “He is trying to get his life back together but he’s still afraid that the government will try to restart his addiction again.”
Romero, who is now reportedly clean from drugs, is seeking $8.5 million for “the loss of love, familial relationships, and companionship” due to his DEA-fueled addiction.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque declined to comment on the case.
While the DEA publicly decries the alleged dangers of marijuana legalization, behind the scenes, the agency is deeply involved with helping the drug trade flourish.
Recently uncovered court documents revealed that the agency helped Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel bring billions of dollars worth of drugs into the country between 2000 and 2012. The documents also showed that DEA agents met with high level Sinaloa members more than 50 times during that period.
Ironically, while the DEA was threatening legal action against banks that attempted to store cash for legal marijuana businesses in Washington and Colorado, those same banks were given a free pass by the DEA when laundering cash for Sinaloa.
Similarly in 2011, Wachovia avoided criminal charges after laundering more than $378.6 billion in drug money for Mexican cartels as well.
Meanwhile, the DEA focuses its attention on prescription drug abuse in the NFL.