The drug war means never having to say you’re sorry.
A Houston-based federal judge ruled that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration does not owe the owner of a small Texas trucking company anything, not even the cost of repairing the bullet holes to a tractor-trailer truck that the agency used without his permission for a wild 2011 drug cartel sting that resulted in the execution-style murder of the truck’s driver, who was secretly working as a government informant.
The Houston Chronicle story also points out that the ruling will spare the DEA a “potentially embarrassing trial.” Another way to phrase that might be that the ruling prevents the public from knowing the details of just how ruthless and indifferent to collateral damage drug warriors can sometimes be. In fact, the owner of the trucking company, Craig Patty, said that this was his reason for bringing the lawsuit — to shed light on what happened. This ruling will prevent that.
Not that the action didn’t hurt his business. Patty had only two trucks at the time, and the truck the DEA decided to drive to the border and load up with drugs was out of commission for two months. His insurance company also refused to reimburse him, because the vehicle was used to commit a crime. The DEA also introduced this trucking business to the world of Mexican drug cartels, potentially putting its owner and other employees at risk as well.
It’s interesting that this ruling comes down a week after DEA administrator Michele Leonhart resigned after allegations that DEA attended cartel-funded sex parties in South America. The DEA took a truck, filled it with drugs, then screwed up and put the truck in the middle of a shootout that damaged the truck and killed its driver. Yet Leonhart was forced to resign because of sex parties.
It isn’t the illicit stuff the DEA does that should worry us; it’s all the horrific stuff the agency does that we’ve somehow permitted to be protected by law.