DEA Recruitment Hurts Texas Trucking Co.
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This is one problem for a new business that the boss could be forgiven for not anticipating. The owner of a fledgling Texas trucking company claims the DEA used of one of his drivers as an undercover agent, causing expensive damage to his truck—not to mention the death of the driver. Owner Craig Patty says he had no idea that his employee, Lawrence Chapa, was a DEA informant until he was told that Chapa had been shot eight times in the truck's cab, after using the vehicle to bring marijuana from the border in an undercover operation. Patty is now suing for $130,000 in truck repairs—his insurance company won't cover it because it says the vehicle was being used by the federal government—plus $1.3 million in additional damages. "When you start a new business, there are obvious pitfalls and you go through a learning curve," says Patty. "But who would ever be ready to deal with this?" Patty claims his business nearly collapsed because the truck involved in the shooting—one of two his business owned—couldn't be used for 100 days, and he says he was forced to draw money from his retirement fund to pay for the repairs. GPS information from the truck shows the vehicle made an unauthorized 1,000-mile trip to the Rio Grande Valley in the days before Chapa was killed; Patty says he now lives in constant fear that drug cartels will track him down. The DEA has confirmed receipt of his complaint and is investigating.