Case File Analysis
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When an individual becomes an informant, he or she is literally putting his or her life, and often the lives of family members, in the hands of his control agent. The extent of the control agent’s training and experience with informants is the only barometer of how much danger an informant can expect to face. In the race to make cases, control agents routinely place their informants’ lives in needless jeopardy.
Informants and innocent bystanders have been killed or seriously injured during undercover drug purchases and buy-bust operations. The catalysts for an undercover operation to spin out of control are too long to list. If a list was possible to produce, failures at the planning and execution stages of the investigation would be at the top. Remarkably, many of the agencies responsible for the catastrophes have not been sued for negligence.
In September 2014, a DEA informant was awarded $1.14 million following a protracted trial. The DEA money laundering informant had been kidnapped during an investigation when her handlers compromised her identity. She was held captive by traffickers in Cali, Colombia for over three months. She suffered permanent injuries from the ordeal.
Informants are routinely injured during undercover operations.During pre-trial hearings it was proven the government destroyed valuable tape recorded evidence favorable to the plaintiff’s case. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge deciding the case wrote “DEA not only failed to protect (the informant), but acted with reckless disregard for her safety in light of its intelligence indicating how at risk she was.” A retired DEA agent’s expert testimony was credited for the victory. The judge praised him from the bench.
Informants are routinely injured during undercover operations. Many have been killed. In January 2012, the State of Florida agreed to pay the family of a slain informant $2.6 million instead of risking trial.
The informant was shot to death during a botched buy-bust operation launched by the Tallahassee Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Pre-trial discovery revealed that nearly every rule governing informant handling, from recruitment of the informant through the planning and operational stages of the fatal investigation, was violated.
Contact Dennis G. Fitzgerald if you have been injured while working for a law enforcement agency or you are an attorney representing an injured informant.
The Substantial Assistance website has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information contained in this website is provided only as general information, which may or may not reflect the most current legal developments.
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