The owner of a small two-truck company has asked the Supreme Court to force the DEA to compensate him after his driver was killed and his truck was riddled with bullets during a failed drug sting involving the infamous Los Zetas drug cartel.
Craig Patty, the owner of the truck, filed a lawsuit against the DEA back in 2013. He claimed that the man he hired – who passed a background check with flying colors thanks to the DEA falsifying his criminal history report – was actually an informant for the government agency. Unbeknownst to Patty, his truck and the driver were being used to smuggle drugs for the Zetas drug cartel as part of a sting operation.
On the day the sting was supposed to happen, the driver was supposedly taking the truck in for repairs. In fact, it was being driven to pick up a load of marijuana, accompanied by plain clothes law enforcement. Unfortunately, the Zetas set an ambush in broad daylight, killing the driver, and shooting the truck full of holes. Additionally, two law enforcement officers were injured, one of whom was shot by a fellow law enforcement officer.
When Patty learned what had happened, he filed a lawsuit against the DEA seeking up to $6.4 million for the cost of repairs, lost income, and the emotional hardship of living in fear of the Zetas cartel who he worried might mistakenly take revenge on him thinking that he was involved in the sting.
A federal court judge and then a Fifth Circuit court judge both ruled that the DEA was not responsible for paying any of the damages that resulted from their failed drug sting. The insurance company wouldn’t cover the damages since they occurred while the truck was being used for illegal activities – namely smuggling drugs for a sting operation.
Patty is now turning to the Supreme Court for help. According to Patty, because he had not given permission for his property to be used for law enforcement activities, they should not be allowed to just take a private citizen’s possessions, use them for illegal activities, destroy them, and then say they aren’t responsible because they were fighting crime.
“If this case is truly the law, then law enforcement officials can seize the personal property of any citizen in America and the government can escape liability simply by claiming that it has ‘discretion’ to fight crime,” Patty said. “In other words, the ends justify the means no matter the consequences suffered by innocent civilians. This simply cannot be the law in a republic purportedly controlled by a constitution and system of government that was expressly designed to protect its citizens from abusive government practices.”
Patty is still seeking monetary damages from the DEA, but is also looking for police protection from the drug cartel.