Aaron Romero doesn’t sound like a very upright citizen, but neither do the Drug Enforcement Administration agents who recruited him.
Romero had been using crack cocaine for more than half of his life. He finally stopped simply because he could no longer afford to pay for the drug.
That only lasted a few months, however, because DEA agents used crack cocaine to entice Romero to work for them in an undercover operation. The Albuquerque Journal reports,
Romero says he began using crack cocaine shortly before graduating high school and was addicted for 17 years. He entered at least one rehabilitation program but didn’t stay clean for long, the lawsuit states.
Ultimately, Romero’s addiction destroyed his relationship with his parents and siblings and cost him a job at his father’s business in 2008.
For the next several years, Romero bartered car repairs with drug dealers in exchange for crack cocaine to feed his habit. According to the lawsuit, he met a man identified only as “confidential source Cesario” and for a time brokered crack cocaine deals for Cesario in exchange for a portion of the drugs.
But Cesario stopped buying drugs through Romero and with no source for crack cocaine, Romero claims he stopped using the drug in the summer of 2011.
In November 2011, Cesario was working as a DEA informant when he approached Romero about rekindling a drug-sharing arrangement, according to the lawsuit.
Cesario would pay Romero a portion of the crack cocaine Romero was able to buy using Cesario’s money.
Romero claims he rejected Cesario’s initial invitation but succumbed when Cesario promised to provide a large amount of crack cocaine to Romero in exchange for brokering drug deals.
The lawsuit claims DEA agents working on the investigation were aware of the promise to pay Romero in crack cocaine but never sought approval from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to make the arrangement, and that failing to do so was a violation of DEA regulations.
Then the agents sought to cover it up by altering the amounts of cocaine purchased so their reports wouldn’t reflect the crack cocaine paid to Romero, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit references tape recordings made by the informants working for DEA agents that show the informants gave crack cocaine to Romero and that the agents were aware of the transactions.
While Romero might not be a person who one can like very much, the fact remains that enticing him with drugs was unethical behavior. The Drug War is premised on the (correct) idea that one should not use recreational drugs. Thus, “fighting” that war by enticing people to use such drugs has to be wrong.
The best news in this story is that the agents behavior is against DEA policy. Now we can hope they move swiftly to deal with these agents who violated policy. Otherwise, they will be setting up a different standard in the DEA than the one spelled out on paper.
The bottom line is that enticing someone to get addicted to a narcotic is another way in which the Drug War is limiting and ending American freedoms. If the story is true, the agents need to be fired and punished.