Former Drug Informant Sues DEA For Paying Him In Crack

By McCarton Ackerman 07/17/14

Aaron Romero was struggling with his addiction when the feds approached him with an offer he couldn't refuse.

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A former crack cocaine addict has filed a lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration, alleging that they approached him to assist in a drug investigation and paid him in crack.

Aaron Romero, 38, took part in an undercover investigation called “Operation Smack City” that looked into drug rings in the Las Vegas and New Mexico area. He named five DEA agents in the lawsuit that was filed this week in Albuquerque and is seeking $8.5 million in damages for the impact that his reignited crack cocaine addiction had on his personal relationships. However, his attorney confirmed that Romero is now drug-free.

The lawsuit alleges that “the United States government and the defendants affirmatively and intentionally established a pattern of distribution of crack cocaine to (Romero) in order to utilize his addiction to crack cocaine to further the investigation and to 'stack drug related charges' against him.” Romero was later charged with drug distribution, but those charges were dropped last January.

Despite this, Romero’s attorney claims he's still afraid that “the government will try to restart his addiction again. He was targeted because he is a known drug addict. He is trying to get his life back together.”

Elizabeth Martinez, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque, declined to comment on the case.

This isn’t the only time that DEA officials have been accused of questionable behavior in recent months. Last January, several agents were accused of holding secret meetings with members of several drug cartels in Mexico in order to get information about rival drug organizations. Mexican authorities were not notified beforehand by the DEA that these meetings would be taking place, per the stipulations of the bilateral agreements between the two nations.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.