Cops Purposely Reignite A Man’s Crack Addiction
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Cops Purposely Reignite A Man’s Crack Addiction


In a case of “Oh Hell No, That’s Problematic,” a new lawsuit claims that federal agents paid a struggling addict in crack cocaine for his help with an undercover investigation into a Las Vegas, New Mexico drug operation. According to the lawsuit, DEA agents approached Aaron Romero to work for them in exchange for drugs. In a follow up story, Romero claims he had no idea that the people he was scoring for were cops, although he could be saying that now because ever since the lawsuit was announced, he’s been getting death threats for being a “snitch.”

Fueling the Fire “for Justice”

Whether he knew they were cops or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is that, without question, Romero’s participation in “Operation Smack City” facilitated his drug use—something which is pretty illogical when the supposed end goal of the campaign was to prevent drug addiction by getting drugs off the streets. What’s even worse is that from the lawyer’s statements, it sounds like Romero was actually trying to get clean. The lawsuit claims that cops purposely reignited his previous crack addiction for the purposes of furthering their investigation, and then used his newly ignited addiction to ‘”stack drug related charges” against him. So much for serve and protect.

Law Enforcement or Addiction Endorsement?

As someone who works with communities under police surveillance, it’s no surprise for me to learn of yet another instance where the police were recklessly and deliberately indifferent to the lives of the people they involve themselves with. Even when I’ve been a victim of a crime, I’ve found responding officers to be less than helpful. That authorities treat active drug users with disregard, and there’s seemingly no consideration for the special needs of a drug user that might be looking to clean up, comes as no shock. It takes lawsuits like Romero’s to reveal that this is the case. According to this lawsuit, the arrangement was in violation of DEA policy only because the agency did not get prior approval from prosecutors—which suggests that if only they had asked, all this would’ve been totally okay. That sounds like a policy that needs to change. The involvement of active drug users in our government’s so-called war on drugs is largely unregulated and dangerous. I can only hope advocates use Romero’s case as a means for reform.

Romero is seeking $5 million in punitive damages for physical and emotional harm, as well as harm to familial relations. So now you know what a relapse costs; it really does sound like this one was courtesy of the DEA. All we can do is wish Romero luck.

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About Author

Melissa Petro is a freelance writer and writing instructor living in New York City. She has written for NY Magazine, The Guardian, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Jezebel, xoJane, The Fix and elsewhere. She is the founder of Becoming Writers, a community organization that provides free and low cost memoir-writing workshops to new writers of all backgrounds and experiences.