- A family in Pueblo, Colo., is suing the DEA and the Colorado
Bureau of Investigations after a no-knock raid resulted in their two sons
being arrested and jailed despite the fact no drugs were found on the premises.
- According to the suit,
"black-masked, black-helmeted men brandishing automatic weapons and
wearing all-black uniforms with no insignias suddenly burst into the house
unannounced, kicked the family's dog across the floor, ordered the entire
family to 'get on the [expletive] floor,' held them at gunpoint, searched
the house, found no drugs or contraband, but nevertheless carted off the
family's two sons, Dave and Marcos, and imprisoned them illegally and without
- " The ACLU of Colorado filed the suit for the family,
according to the <LINK>
Feb. 21 Rocky Mountain News. Court documents date the raid Aug. 19, 2000.
- "The next thing we knew," said Dan Unis, the
father of the family and a Pueblo County social worker, "there were
five or six police with masks and automatic weapons and stuff yelling at
us. It wasn't the nicest language in the world. I see my dog go flying
across the room because one of them kicked it.
- "Unis said he asked them for a warrant, but "they
couldn't produce one."
- So far, neither the DEA nor the
CBI have had anything to say about the case. But Mark Silverstein, ACLU
legal director, said this: "Once again the war on drugs misses the
target and instead scores a direct hit on the Constitution. These government
agents had no search warrant, no arrest warrant and no lawful authority
whatsoever. They carried out this armed home invasion in flagrant disregard
of the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable searches and arrests
without probable cause."
- "I think it was a bunch of cowboys out having a
good time," said Unis. "It was totally unnecessary." And
unconstitutional. Police cannot arrest and jail people for days at a time
without filing charges; it's called illegal detention.
- While being unconstitutional and unnecessary, many such
raids are also foolhardy and deadly.
- Officers of the six-county Capital Area Narcotics Task
Force, one of 49 federally funded, multijurisdictional narcotics teams
operating in Texas, "were accused of mistaking ragweed for marijuana
in May when they raided a Spicewood home and held residents at gunpoint
as they ransacked the property and [somebody call PETA] kicked the homeowner's
dog," according to a Feb. 4, Austin American-Statesman article. That
version of the story, taken from court documents, is denied by the taskforce
overseer, but of late CANTF hasn't had much luck in being safe.
- Tony Martinez, 19 and unarmed, was killed by taskforce
officers during a raid on a mobile home in Del Valle, Texas, Dec. 2001.
He wasn't even the target of the raid.
- Deputy Keith Ruiz was shot dead during a drug raid while
breaking down the door of a different Del Valle mobile home Feb. 15, 2001.
Thinking there were burglars outside, Edwin Delamore, 21, fired from inside
and killed Ruiz. He's now charged with capital murder.
- When Jacqueline Paasch was stirred out of bed at 6:30
a.m., April 7, 2000, by a commotion downstairs in her West Milwaukee home,
she probably didn't expect to be gunned down. But, as the Feb. 7 Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel tells the story, based on an anonymous tip about "possible
drug activity at a home in the 1700 block of S. 54th St., and then finding
marijuana seeds in a garbage receptacle near the home," a tactical
unit of the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department burst into Paasch's home
and shot her.
- Paasch, who was hit in the left leg, now has limited
use of her toes and needs a brace for walking long distances. The city
denies any wrongdoing but did recently agree to pay $700,000 to settle
a lawsuit filed by Paasch.
- The settlement, said Paasch's attorney, Mark Thomsen,
"reflects the reality that the county could not reasonably justify
- " The same could be said about the settlement for
the Sepulveda family of Modesto, Calif., though it was dramatically smaller.
Eleven-year-old Alberto Sepulveda was shot dead during a Sept. 13, 2000,
SWAT raid that targeted the boy's father. An officer on the scene accidentally
squeezed off a shot, killing the boy instantly. Last month, the family
settled a federal lawsuit over the death.
- The only question that remains: Can $450,000 replace
Alberto? If we didn't have so many unconstitutional and reckless drug raids,
such a question would never have to be answered.
- From Marilyn A. Guinnane
- Your recent article on the DEA raiding in Pueblo, CO,
turns a neon attention getter to the inequities abounding in this country,
yet much to our collective shame, we do nothing to undo it. As just about
everyone and his uncle knows, the CIA is the biggest drug running organization
in the world. So who does the DEA think its fooling, busting in doors,
wearing black masks! These are terror tactics and nothing less. You'd have
to be a monkey not to see it.
- Paraphrasing the cartoon character Pogo, "I have
seen the terrorists, and the terrorists are us." A shame John Kennedy
weren't around to write: While AMERICA Slept (in reference to his book
While England Slept).