The Miami Times recently ran a three part feature on the dangers of law enforcement using teenagers or young people as confidential informants (CIs). The article focuses on the case of Bosco Enriquez who moved from Nicaragua to Miami with his family when he was four years old. Unfortunately at the age of 13 Enriquez got involved with the notorious International Posse gang. In 1996, at the age of 15, his family’s house was raided by police and he was charged with aggravated battery. Enriquez then started working with police as a confidential informant, helping to bust as many as 30 gang members for drugs offences.
In the article, Enriquez explains his experience of conducting a controlled drug buy to incriminate a fellow gang member: “I was terrified. This was a violent guy and I was a 15-year-old kid.” Enriquez says that his involvement as a confidential informant led him to start taking drugs himself. He also claims that, after helping law enforcement, the police abandoned him. He was beaten and raped by other prisoners whilst in police custody and then deported to Nicaragua for a minor drugs charge where he remains to this day.
The article goes on to state that in 1997, Enriquez’s handler revealed his name in a deposition, stating, “His horror story is emblematic of a bigger problem that lawmakers in Florida and across the nation have only recently begun to recognize: Cops employ confidential informants — sometimes very young ones — to bust criminals. But there’s little oversight, and the result of police carelessness can be horrific.”
The Miami New Times cites two examples of young confidential informants who were killed in separate incidents whilst working for law enforcement – 23-year-old Rachel Hoffman and 17-year-old Chad McDonald.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of these cases, it is clear that the use of young confidential informants carries a high degree of risk. And, whilst the use of young informants may not be desirable, sometimes it is a necessary tool in the fight against organised crime. It is important, therefore, that juvenile CIs are managed properly.
Implementing effective strategies for risk assessment, governance, protection of identity and the management of financial transactions are crucial to protecting the human rights of young CIs. Informant management software, like abmpegasus, can help to ensure that all issues surrounding juvenile confidential informants are properly managed. The abmpegasus system, for example, includes a number of features specifically designed for dealing with juvenile CIs:
- Review dates – ensure that young CIs are subjected to more frequent regular reviews
- Escalated approval – ensure that the use of young CIs is authorised by a senior officer
- Warnings – automatically alert handlers to the juvenile status of young informants
In addition to these areas, abmpegasus also provides comprehensive functionality to manage all aspects of any confidential informant, ensuring that operations are properly assessed for risk, appropriately authorised and carefully managed.