A confidential informant is murdered, the truck he was driving is buried in a wall, a Sheriff’s Deputy is shot by another police officer and four people are injured in a collision with a school bus.
This sounds like the plot of a car chase in a blockbuster movie. Unfortunately it was all the result of an undercover narcotics operation that went badly wrong in Texas last week.
As reported by KHOU, undercover officers from Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), Houston Police Department (HPD) and members of the Drugs Task Force were following a truck being driven by a confidential informant. The truck was loaded with at least 300lb of marijuana and the law enforcement officers were following it in order to arrest the drug dealers who would receive the delivery. However, whilst en route several other vehicles suddenly appeared, showering the truck with bullets and killing the confidential informant. A gun battle that followed, with officers firing back at the hijackers killing one of them, while another one was hit twice by a patrol vehicle. In the confusion a plain clothes HCSO deputy was allegedly shot in the leg by a HPD officer who didn’t recognise him. A patrol vehicle responding to the scene added to the chaos by colliding with a school bus, injuring the two drivers and two other people.
It is not clear whether the hijackers were intending to steal the drugs shipment or just assassinate the confidential informant. What is clear, however, is that the law enforcement operation certainly did not go to plan, despite law enforcement succeeding in arresting four men accused of storming the truck.
The whole case raises issues over confidential informant anonymity and protection, risk management and deconfliction. When dealing with narcotics and unpredictable drug dealers, mistakes can happen. I just hope that law enforcement went through proper procedures to assess the risk associated with this particular operation before they embarked upon it.