“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.” That’s National Review blogger Kevin D. Williamson’s reaction to one of the DEA’s latest War on Drugs capers that, oh-by-the-way got a cooperating truck driver killed while they used a trucking company’s equipment without its permission…resulting in six figures in damages. The media’s calling it a botched sting (gosh, where have we heard that before?). The DEA calls it just another Monday . . .
According to chron.com, Craig Patty’s small trucking firm hauls sand for companies engaged in hydraulic fracking operations for oil and gas exploration. He thought his driver, Lawrence Chapa, and his truck were were in Houston for repairs. Turns out the driver had been a long-time DEA informant and was hauling a few hundred pounds of weed from the border.
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.
At least 17 hours before that early morning phone call, Chapa was shot dead in front of more than a dozen law enforcement officers – all of them taken by surprise by hijackers trying to steal the red Kenworth T600 truck and its load of pot.
In the confusion of the attack in northwest Harris County, compounded by officers in the operation not all knowing each other, a Houston policeman shot and wounded a Harris County sheriff’s deputy.
Sounds like the DEA’s running a real perfessional operation there, no? That cluster went down about eight months ago. Patty’s now seeking compensation from the feds for his losses (his truck was turned into Swiss cheese by all the gunfire). And trying to get the government to respond is going just about as well as you’d expect.
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.
“When you start a new business, there are obvious pitfalls you go through, a learning curve,” said Patty, who before buying his two trucks worked in the pharmaceutical industry. “But who would ever be ready to deal with this?
“How am I — a small businessman, father of three, American Joe from Texas — supposed to make a claim against a federal agency that has conveniently shrouded itself behind a red, white and blue cloak of confidentiality and secrecy?”
Maybe Mr. Patty and his attorney should contact Brian Terry’s family for a little advice on how to cut through the .gov red tape. While Patty hasn’t lost a loved one like the Terrys did, he’s lost a large amount of money and could lose his business as a result. And he’s living in fear that Los Zetas – the drug cartel that killed his driver – now know who he is and where to find him. He may want to invest in some good home defense hardware if he hasn’t already done so. Just sayin’. [h/t Tyler Kee]