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The Corner

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DEA Gone Wild



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This Houston Chronicle story is terrifying:

 

The phone rang before sunrise. It woke Craig Patty, owner of a tiny North Texas trucking company, to vexing news about Truck 793 — a big red semi supposedly getting repairs in Houston.

“Your driver was shot in your truck,” said the caller, a business colleague. “Your truck was loaded with marijuana. He was shot eight times while sitting in the cab. Do you know anything about your driver hauling marijuana?”

“What did you say?” Patty recalled asking. “Could you please repeat that?”

The truck, it turned out, had been everywhere but in the repair shop.

Commandeered by one of his drivers, who was secretly working with federal agents, the truck had been hauling marijuana from the border as part of an undercover operation. And without Patty’s knowledge, the Drug Enforcement Administration was paying his driver, Lawrence Chapa, to use the truck to bust traffickers.

This jackass DEA adventure has driven Mr. Patty to the edge of bankruptcy, and possibly toward an even worse fate:

 

But eight months later, Patty still can’t get recompense from the U.S. government’s decision to use his truck and employee without his permission.

His company, which hauls sand as part of hydraulic fracturing operations for oil and gas companies, was pushed to the brink of failure after the attack because the truck was knocked out of commission, he said.

Patty had only one other truck in operation.

In documents shared with the Houston Chronicle, he is demanding that the DEA pay $133,532 in repairs and lost wages over the bullet-sprayed truck, and $1.3 million more for the damage to himself and his family, who fear retaliation by a drug cartel over the bungled narcotics sting.

In short, the DEA here commandeered private property from a law-abiding businessman and ineptly deployed it in an operation that got a man killed and now endangers a family that had nothing to do with the case. There is a term for what the DEA did with that truck: grand theft auto.

The DEA is running neck-and-neck with the ATF for the title of most dangerous federal law-enforcement agency; in my view, both should be dissolved and their responsibilities handed over to some more responsible party, such as a group of drunken rodeo clowns or ADD-addled teen-agers.

Whoever approved this operation belongs in a jail cell next to whoever approved Fast and Furious.



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