U.S. District Court Judge Oren R. Lewis, chiding U.S. drug agents for performing an "amateurish job," yesterday dismissed drug charges against a Canadian man accused of importing drugs last October into Dules International Airport.
Lewis ordered charges against Andre P. Dodier, 37, dropped after Drug Enforecment Administration agents gave conflicting testimony about details of the case. Lewis also criticized the agents for not arraigning Dodier promptly after his arrest, and said he found government testimony about two confessions by Dodier unrealistic.
"If this man did have (the cocaine), the DEA muffed it," Lewis said in court in Alexandria. "To me it was an amateurish job. They had a perfect opportunity" to handle Dodier properly.
Dodier was accused of importing seven pounds of cocaine into the country aboard an international flight from Lima, Peru, to New York via Dulles. He was arrested in New York after U.S. customs agents using a sniffer dog said they found the drugs in a bathroom aboard the plane during its Dulles stop.
Lewis said he found unrealistic the testimony of New York-based DEA agent John Gartlan, who said Dodier voluntarily admitted that he had questioned about it at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Lewis also said Gartian should have taken Dodier before a magistrate immediately after his arrest rather than waiting at least four hours, and should have tape-recorded or written down a later alleged confession taken at the DEA's New York office.
Dodier testified yesterday that he invented a story about importing cocaine for organized crim figures after DEA agents threatened to jail his girlfriend and told him they had evidence stacked against him. Gartian denied Dodierhs contention.
Lewis said he also was "disturbed" by testimony from two agents who said the cocaine was hidden in a bathroom aboard the plane, but differed over which bathroom it was. The agents also disgreed over where Dodier was seated and how many other passengers visited the bathroom during the trip from Dulles to New York.