Louisiana Drug Warriors Bungle Surveillance So Badly Their Target Catches Them Placing A Tracking Device On Her Car

from the points-for-enthusiasm,-I-guess dept

You’d think a team of highly trained professionals working in the narcotics enforcement field would be a bit more careful than this. (via Jalopnik)

A woman who was recently arrested for drugs said she found a tracking device on her vehicle over the weekend. She said she watched law enforcement officers place it on her car Friday.

The device was found under the passenger side of her car. It’s a black box with a lithium battery inside and a large magnet.

The woman, Tiara Beverly, was arrested last month on “serious drug charges.” A few days after her arrest, five officers showed up at her door to ask about someone she knew. She had no answers for them and went down and filed a complaint against the state troopers because she felt they had treated her poorly during this interaction.

Two days later, she saw people hanging around her car. A day after that, she found the tracking device. Not sure what it was (she thought it might have been a bomb) and not particularly keen to interact with law enforcement again at that point, she spoke to the NAACP to find someone to approach law enforcement for her.

That’s when law enforcement finally decided to open up about the device now in Beverly’s possession:

Eugene Collins [Baton Rouge NAACP President] said State Police contacted him Monday demanding the return of the device.

“They asked me to return the box,” Collins said. “It could make the situation more difficult for me.”

Why this would make things “more difficult” for a third party not actually in possession of the tracking device is unknown. Either way, the device was ultimately returned to law enforcement after it was found attached to a utility pole across the street from a local middle school.

But the device wasn’t found by the agency demanding its return or by the investigators unwilling to speak about the super-sensitive tracking device because doing so would jeopardize the investigation officers were currently bungling. It was found by WBRZ reporters following up on Tiara Beverly’s story.

At least the statement provided to WBRZ says the State Police got a warrant for the tracker. That at least appears to comply with Supreme Court precedent. But everything else about it appears incredibly amateurish. Warrant or not, investigators would be better off not being seen attaching tracking devices to criminal suspects’ vehicles. It kind of defeats the purpose of surreptitious tracking when the installation is less than surreptitious.

This isn’t the first time a surveillance target has discovered, removed, and, consequently, received threats from law enforcement for “taking” something investigators willfully attached to someone else’s property. But judging from that viral experience, there’s not much in it for the target of this attempted surveillance either.

A Redditor who found an FBI tracking device attached to his car received a visit from agents after he removed the device and asked questions about it on Reddit. The FBI made angry noises about any lack of cooperation from the target of its failed surveillance attempt being perceived as its own criminal act, but in the end, no additional charges were filed. Unfortunately, a lawsuit brought against the FBI failed because it wasn’t clear at that point that warrants were needed and all other privacy violation allegations were dismissed because the person chose to bring it to the attention of Reddit, which soon brought to the attention of journalists and commentators all over the nation.

This is just officers being bad at their job. They’re probably not going to get another chance to turn Beverly’s vehicle into rolling probable cause. They had a shot and they blew it. Then they got angry and never even bothered to track down the current location of the device investigators said should be immediately returned to them because of their ongoing investigation.

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Comments on “Louisiana Drug Warriors Bungle Surveillance So Badly Their Target Catches Them Placing A Tracking Device On Her Car”

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29 Comments
This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
mrtraver (profile) says:

The possibilities are endless

She could have had fun by attaching it to any number of things other than a utility pole:

  • a freight train
  • a school bus
  • a garbage truck
  • the Buick that the little old lady next door only drives to church and walmart
  • a police car
    I’m sure I am missing some.
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The possibilities are endless

The police car would be a bad idea. I can just see what the idiots would report afterwards.

… after attaching the tracking device to the suspects car, the collected data indicated that the subject frequently appeared at a wide variety of crime scenes. Given the number and scope of the scenes the subject was associated with, it’s obvious that the subject is a major player in a massive crime syndicate. We recommend increased surveillance of the subject …

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PossibleHuman (profile) says:

Seems like there's a choice to be made...

By the same logic which allows persons to be prosecuted for drug possession after officers have placed drugs in their vehicles, this device is now the property of the person to whose vehicle it was attached.

Alternatively, law enforcement can claim ownership of the device and by the same stroke, it owns any illegal drugs "found" in vehicles, thereby making the vehicle owner inelegible for charges of possession.

Which way do you think it will go?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Stay classy you blue-suited goons

"They asked me to return the box," Collins said. "It could make the situation more difficult for me."

They attached the device to her vehicle, got caught, and when she exposed their actions they blamed her and threatened her if she didn’t ‘return’ their gorram property.

Oh yeah, the very height of professional conduct there, definitely not a band of thugs willing to engage in petty vindictiveness.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Stay classy you blue-suited goons

Not quite.

Tiara Beverly is the person who’s car the tracker was installed on. Because of her not trusting any interaction with the police, contacted NAACP to act as a go between.

Eugene Collins (Baton Rouge NAACP President) was the person threatened by the police to return the device.

In a nutshell, not only were they petty thugs who issue threats when in the wrong, they were petty thugs who issue threats TO THE WRONG PERSON.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Stay classy you blue-suited goons

has thought bubbles pop up from his head of petty thugs being petty

Yeah we ruined your entire house but we swear we saw a spot on the thermal camera so we don’t have to pay to wrecking your home.

Yeah you were getting undressed, we burst in, handcuffed you waited a while to offer to cover you up once it became clear around the 50th time that our CI MIGHT have been mistaken.

Oh hes threatening to kill himself & is covered in gasoline!?!? Hold my beer & hand me that taser.

The only person that is the wrong person for them to threaten is someone who has more power than they do.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

This does raise a lot of legal questions

Once I find a tracking device on my car, what are my rights regarding the device? Can I be charged with a crime for destroying it or refusing to return it to law enforcement? Am I allowed to remove it from my vehicle? Will I be charged with a crime if I turn it into a news agency or another none-government agency? What about an agent of another government, say the ambassador of China?

The problem is once government agents start engaging in espionage against me (say, planting a tracking device on my car) it is essentially a declaration of open hostility by the state considering its agents are committing crimes against me and mine.

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