The Sheriff of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Raymond Martin, has been on trial for drug trafficking and witness tampering accoring to Courier Press. The Sheriff allegedly gave marijuana to a confidential informant, Jeremy Potts, on several occasions (sometimes up to 20 pounds a time) so that Potts could sell it and share half of the profits. Eventually Potts wanted to get out of the arrangement and became a confidential informant for Illinois State Police, allowing evidence to be gathered in order to arrest the corrupt Sheriff.
Nearly 10 percent of Mexico’s Federal Police have been fired as part of President Felipe Calderon’s war on drugs, according to Reuters. Deputy Police Chief Facundo Rosas explained that 3,200 policemen were fired for failing to “carry out duties established in the federal police law”. The police department of Ciudad Juarez, one of the main centers of drug cartel related violence, has also seen the dismissal of 465 policemen, including it own Police Chief.
Where corruption is so ingrained in society, it is difficult to say whether these latest sackings will make a real difference. Some say it is worth trying. Others point out that 28,000 people have been killed in drug violence since Calderon’s war on drugs started in 2006, an escalation allegedly caused by disruption of existing drugs gangs and battles to take over new territories.
Trying to wipe out a $13 billion black market is difficult, some might say impossible. Whatever happens, the pressure is on President Calderon who has vowed to win the war against drug cartels by the end of his term in 2012.
460 pounds (208kg) of crystal meth, 19 gallons (86 litres) of meth solution, 15 pounds (7kg) of cocaine, $35k cash and 2 handguns and 7 suspected Mexican drug dealers comprise the impressive haul that Sacramento County Sheriff’s drugs task forces (Cal-MMET, HIDTA, and ADACAET) made on Thursday in Gilroy, California, according to The Sacramento Bee. This was the culmination of a year long investigation into a Mexican drugs cartel. The seized drugs would have had a street value of around $200 million USD.
Despite this significant successful raid the head of the multi-agency drug task force, Lt. Fred Links, was keen to stress the massive scale of the drug problem and the difficulty of keeping up with it. The U.S. DoJ National Drug Threat Assessment 2010 reports that 3,478kg of Methamphetamine was seized along the US/Mexico border in 2009, along with 17,085kg of cocaine and 1.5 million kg of marijuana. The problem is growing, fuelling associated gang crime and firearms trafficking.
With limited financial, human and physical resources, US law enforcement agencies will need to maximise the benefits of intelligence and use technology to help them take proactive action.
A Las Vegas police detective is under investigation for allegedly lying to authorities to get permission to search suspected drug dealers’ homes. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Detective Bryan Yant said that he watched a confidential informant purchase drugs from William Sigler, giving justification to search Sigler’s house. But Sigler’s attorneys now say that the informant never bought drugs from Sigler. The paperwork from the case is partially completed or missing, adding weight to the accusations of malpractice.
abmpegasus is specifically designed to reduce the potential for dodgy record keeping, making all officers more accountable and improvement transparency of operations to improve management oversight.
Baltimore City Drug Enforcement Officer Mark Lunsford faces a 20 month prison sentence for sharing $10,000 with a police informant and stealing a diamond watch worth $18,000 from someone’s house during a drugs raid. The US DoJ has reported that the 40 year old officer has been required to leave the police force and has been sentenced to 20 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.
This story reiterates the need to law enforcement agencies to improve their management of confidential informants, particularly with regard to informant payouts.
The UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) announced today that they have stopped another gang of drugs smugglers. The five gang members were caught after 80kg of cocaine (with a street value of £25m) was found in Dover in 2009. SOCA officers replaced the cocaine with flour allowing them to arrest the men when they came to collect it. It is believed that 30 similar deliveries had already been received by the gang, with an estimated total street value of £500 million.
The Mayor of Atlanta has offered a $4.9 million settlement to the family of Kathryn Johnston according to the Atlanta Journal. 92-year-old Johnston was killed in 2006 by Atlanta Police after an informant said he had purchased drugs from her home. When undercover police officers knocked down her door she reached fired a shot from a gun leading the police to shoot and kill her. It was later revealed that the informant had lied, no drugs were found at Johnston’s house and the undercover officers had planted drugs on Johnston to cover up their mistake.
Not only has this tragic case cost the city $4.9m in settlement money, but it led to several police officers being sentenced and has severely impacted public confidence in law enforcement.
According to Jacksonville Daily News it has been revealed that Jacksonville Police Department used a fugitive who is suspected of breaking a 5-month-old child’s left arm as an informant in a major drugs bust last year. This was in clear breach of the police department’s policies that prohibit the use of fugitives as informants.
45 suspects were charged in the undercover operation in which the informant was involved. The revelations about the informant’s status may lead to cases against them being dropped.
The department should review its policies and how they are enforced in order to prevent such occurrences from being repeated.
No matter how helpful a confidential informant is, some of them will always return to bad habits. Duluth News Tribune reports today that drug informant Paul Kastern has been jailed for five years for selling methamphetamine. Since the 1980s, Kastern has helped police convict other drugs offenders in return for having his own sentences reduced. He even helped to convict his own attorney of snorting cocaine and smoking marijuana. However, in February 2009, Kastern was caught out when another confidential informant purchased meth from him on three separate occasions.
As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer on 30th June, a second suspected officer has pleases guilty to corruption charges which involved planting drugs on suspects, making flase arrests and lying on police reports over a period of over two years between May 2007 and October 2009. Five police officers are suspected of being involved.
Not only has the Camden Police Department suffered a major loss in reputation, the investigation has led to the release of many prisoners as over 200 cases have been overturned. In many cases, the released prisoners may indeed be criminals but the failure of the police department to adhere to proper standards means they are now free to walk the streets.