A former drug addict is suing federal agents after they paid him in crack cocaine for his help during an undercover investigation in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
38-year-old Aaron Romero was approached by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers back in 2011, in order to assist in a drug bust referred to as “Operation Smack City.” The DEA agents paid Romero with portions of the drugs they confiscated, allegedly reigniting his crack addiction.
Romero’s lawyer, Erlinda Ocampo Johnson, said he “was targeted because he was a known drug addict. He is trying to get his life back together but he’s still afraid that the government will try to restart his addiction again.” Romero allegedly fell back into his bad habits when federal officers handed him crack cocaine for his help with informants in the case, though he’s now drug-free. Elizabeth Martinez, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque, said that the office declined to comment.
“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,” the lawsuit reads. Five DEA agents were named in the lawsuit, including two special agents, one group supervisor, the overall agent in charge, and an assistant agent-in-charge.
The lawsuit also states that Romero was a victim of recklessness on behalf of the DEA agents. Romero seeks $8.5 million in damages, for the loss of “love, familial relationships, and companionship” due to the re-ignition of his drug addiction.