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December 2005
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DEA – business as usual

Back in August, I mentioned the case of Essam Magid, a DEA informant that the agency continued to use after the FBI dismissed him for revealing his undercover status and identifying two agents.
Today, the LA Times has a four-page story: Snagging a Rogue Snitch. It’s a stark look at how the DEA operates. Using questionable informants who frame innocent victims while living high on DEA cash. And then DEA agents lie in court to protect their snitches. Fortunately, one Judge wasn’t going along:

U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer was listening closely. In an earlier hearing before the judge, FBI agent Pifer testified that she had explained to [DEA Agent Dwayne] Bareng the reasons why the FBI had stopped using Magid in 2002.

Breyer testily pointed out the discrepancy in the two versions. After a break, Bareng got back on the stand and changed his story. Pifer had told him the reason for the firing, he said. Furthermore, Bareng acknowledged, he had discussed the matter with Magid as well as with his DEA supervisor.

Now Breyer was angry.

Breyer: “So the fact that an informant comes in, lies to the FBI, you find out about it, Magid comes and tells you that he lied to the FBI — that’s just nowhere in the DEA records; is that right? And you had conversations with the DEA and there are no records of that; is that right?”

Bareng: “That’s correct.”

The judge had heard enough. He suggested that Bareng, his supervisor and maybe others had relied knowingly on a “lawless” informant “who has been chastised by the government, who has been fired for it.” More than that, Bareng may have perjured himself, Breyer told prosecutors.

In a rare scene, Bareng soon invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination and asked for a lawyer. Within minutes, Hunter, the assistant U.S. attorney, was passed a note from her superiors: The government moved to dismiss the case against Ismael.

That might have been the end of it all, but the judge wasn’t done. Because witness misconduct and potential perjury had occurred in a case before his court, Breyer said he was compelled to call for an investigation.

The probe, which is being conducted by the inspector general’s office and federal prosecutors from San Diego, is centered on Magid’s possible obstruction of justice.

Investigators are also exploring whether Bareng lied in court about the DEA’s knowledge of Magid’s reckless behavior, whether the agent encouraged some of that conduct and how much his higher-ups knew.

Time for the DEA to pay up for lawless behavior.
Note: This is a problem that goes all the way up to the top. I wrote some time ago about Deputy DEA Director Michele Leonhart and her questionable connections with super-snitch Andrew Chambers.

[Thanks to jackl for the tip.]

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