I don’t know how many people are initially attracted to a career in the law because of the mystique of the courtroom moment of truth, the largely fictional stock-in-trade of courtroom dramas and TV shows such as Perry Mason. I wasn’t one of them myself (from the beginning I was 2/3 policy wonk at heart with a minor in deep theories of everything), but one meets lots of them in law schools (although far more among the students, who presumably go into trial law, than among the professoriate), and it’s easy to understand the attraction.
Real life, of course, never serves up such moments. Never? Well, hardly ever…and when it does they can be quite beautiful: Snagging a Rogue Snitch – Los Angeles Times.
Beautiful as this individual outcome may be, it is a mere glimpse at a horrifically out-of-control federal drug war machine. I think the drug war is–despite all the other stuff you write about here–quite clearly the greatest current threat to Americans’ civil liberties. That includes all of us, as this article illustrates, not just those that have some kind of involvement with prohibited substances. Being roped in to a frame-up might seem unlikely, but truly everyone is at risk of becoming the mistaken target of a no-knock swat-team raid or other heavy-handed police action. That’s not to mention the private sector violence that is the direct result of prohibition…
As a retired DEA Agent, I think I’m more qualified than most to make some comments about this bad “snitch”.
DEA has great DEA policies and procedures in place to vet and corroborate snitches. They’re just not used and they’re not used because DEA supports more and more programs that increase it’s dependency on state and local efforts. It’s called the “task force” approach, combining resources, mutual cooperation, and partnerships.
In this model, ten different jurisdictions get together, set aside all of their jurisdictional personnel, financial, and administrative differences, and target the very organizations that created their jurisdictional differences.
Then comes the press release and the bottom of the press release has more cooperating police departments than defendants. Most of the defendants live in the area and the costs of the investigation and prosecution often exceeds the costs of the seized drugs.
Drug profits are often seized and forfeited. Those proceeds are distributed to cooperating police departments and they receive that money in addition to the money they receive from tax payers. It’s 100% pure profit and that profit only finances more enforcement and some drug prosecutions. Tax payers disproportionately pick up the rest of the court related costs and this law enforcement model is the only one currently used in the U.S.
The lines and levels in drug enforcement are currently blurred and bad snitches like this one are part of the reason they’re blurred.