You Apparently Can't Win A Drug War Without Sexually Abusing Kids And Murdering Parents

from the flag-emojis-and-etc. dept

This is the price we're paying to win fight stand our ground during participate in a drug war. We take criminals under our wing, turn them into informants, and send them out into the general population to engage in criminal activity -- all under the assumption this will eventually lead to the dismantling of a drug cartel.

Of course, this is the same rationale propelling civil asset forfeiture. But no matter how much property is taken from people never charged with crimes, drug cartels remain intact and their products continue to flow into the country. But that's only dollars and cars and houses lost. This case [PDF] -- presided over by the Tenth Circuit Appeals Court -- deals with the loss of innocence and life… all at the hands of a DEA informant.

The backstory of the DEA informant is so much easier to take than the backstory of the lawsuit, so we'll start there.

The events began in 2011, when Mr. Quintana was arrested by state authorities after a search warrant executed at his home uncovered drugs and stolen handguns. After his arrest and release from custody the DEA registered him as an active informant. He remained registered as an informant until April 4, 2013. As part of Mr. Quintana’s agreement with the DEA the defendants “controlled the evidence and the status and direction of the State of New Mexico charges” against him. Aplt. App., Vol. I at 24 ¶ 83 (emphasis omitted). At the time the DEA engaged him as an informant, Mr. Quintana’s criminal record reflected his violent propensities.

The footnote attached to "violent propensities" reads":

Mr. Quintana’s criminal record includes “Domestic Violence, Battery upon a Household Member, Child Abuse, False Imprisonment, Battery upon a Household Member with a Firearm, Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, Conspiracy, Felon in Possession of a Firearm . . . Trafficking a Controlled Substance, Receiving or Transferring a Stolen Firearm, and threats of Battery and Arson.”

Here's more on the DEA informant, via the lower court's decision:

In particular, in 2005, Quintana was convicted of Aggravated Battery Against a Household Member with a Deadly Weapon after battering his wife in front of his wife’s children, arming himself with a handgun and pressing it against his wife’s mouth, saying “I want to kill you, you fucking bitch.”

The DEA viewed this horrendous person as an asset, releasing him back into the public to continue being his awful self while occasionally providing agents with tips. The record doesn't show how many investigations Quintana aided. It may have been zero. It may have been dozens. No matter what the total was, it cannot possibly offset the criminal acts he committed that led to this lawsuit.

In August 2012, during the period in which he was acting as an informant, Mr. Quintana and his family moved into the residence of Jason Estrada and his family, with the Estrada family’s permission. Plaintiffs allege the DEA was aware or should have been aware of Mr. Quintana’s residential location and circumstances. For its part, the Estrada family was unaware that Mr. Quintana was serving as a DEA informant. Nor did the government warn the family of his violent nature or history.

Within a month, Mr. Quintana began sexually abusing Jason Estrada’s minor son, JGE, who was then five years old. The abuse continued until February 20, 2013, when Mr. Quintana and his family moved out of the Estrada residence.

This is horrifying enough. But it gets worse. JGE told his parents about the abuse after Quintana moved out. JGE's father began asking Quintana's friends and associates about this molestation or any other criminal acts Quintana had engaged in. Quintana found out about this and decided to shut JGE's father up.

On April 3, 2013, Mr. Quintana and two other men travelled to the Estrada residence. In the presence of JGE, they beat and shot Jason Estrada, who died from his injuries.

Here's the coda, which is far too little far too late:

Approximately one day later, “the United States and the Defendants deactivated DEA Informant Edward Quintana.”

And that's the end of the story. The lower court granted qualified immunity to the DEA agents, stating no policy or guideline or action/inaction could have foreseeably led to this tragic turn of events. It also allowed the US government to duck the federal court claims, finding the complaint failed to state a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

None of these rulings were appealed so that leaves the Appeals Court with the plaintiff's last-ditch Rule 59(e) motion to consider. This appeal route asks the court to reconsider the lower court's ruling in total to find reversible errors and/or consider new evidence. The court finds no errors and no new evidence, so JGE and his relatives all just have to live with the sacrifice his father apparently made for this country and its war on drugs. The lower court's ruling is affirmed.

Maybe there really is no clear path to holding the government accountable for the damage done by its war on drugs. All we can do, for the most part, is count the costs: the trillions of dollars and the thousands of lives. Some of this is lost in massive chunks -- abstract amounts relegated to spreadsheets and yearly reporting. Some of it is lost individually, with enough detail we're all able to see the blood on our hands. This is one of those cases. And like the Drug War itself, there's no closure to be had.

Filed Under: 10th circuit, criminals, dea, drug war, edward quintana, informants, jason estrada


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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 May 2019 @ 12:18pm

    Crime does not pay…unless you work for the government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2019 @ 12:19pm

    Don't forget the real beneficiary of the drug war, the CIA

    The CIA has been caught numerous times acting as the new drug suppliers of the USA in order to fund its extra-legal activities. The drug war was really to drive up the cost of the drugs by making competing with them more difficult. Prove me wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2019 @ 12:21pm

    Did it say anywhere how much this guy was being paid as an informant? Often the amounts are shocking, especially considering that many of them continue their life of crime while on the taxpayer dole.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 May 2019 @ 12:21pm

    Paying him even a single cent was paying him way too much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 6 May 2019 @ 12:25pm

    Re:

    NYC pays $400-600 per week for Confidential Informants. No idea what the Feds pay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2019 @ 12:33pm

    Re:

    especially considering that many of them continue their life of crime while on the taxpayer dole

    Continuing their life of crime is literally what they're being paid for... people who aren't living a life of crime don't generally have anything to inform on after all.

    I mean the entire informant system (and this guy in particular) are pretty shitty, but it's not like continuing their life of crime is something they are doing in spite of the government, or that the government is unaware or uncaring about their crimes. The government wants them to keep living a life of crime, just in a more stable "business-as-usual, no need for much violence" mentality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Hero, 6 May 2019 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Don't forget the real beneficiary of the drug war, the CIA

    Doesn't work this way. I wouldn't be surprised, but the burden of truthi s on the accuser. You need to prove you're right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2019 @ 1:22pm

    The guy's criminal record includes child abuse and domestic violence, and "no policy or guideline or action/inaction could have foreseeably led to this tragic turn of events?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Agammamon, 6 May 2019 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Don't forget the real beneficiary of the drug war, the CIA

    1. No, the CIA has never been caught 'acting as the new drug supplier of the USA'. They've certainly been caught dealing arms - even to drug suppliers, but they've never been caught supplying drugs to the US.

    2. The Drug War has drastically reduced costs of drugs while massively improving quality.

    There you go. Both assertions proven wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    bobob, 6 May 2019 @ 3:39pm

    The criminals, otherwise known as the DEA, have to do something to justify their budget to the people in congress who need the theater to get re-elected. Anyone who works for or with the DEA is part of a criminal enterprise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    ECA (profile), 6 May 2019 @ 6:02pm

    Part of being an ADULT

    We all have to learn the Good/bad/ugly things of life..
    Hiding in the sand isnt Good for you or your Ears..

    The idea of religion is to understand TEMPTATION..and if there is none, what is the fight for??

    We learn by being Idiots or watching Idiots do stupid things... You cant Prove anything without the idiots.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2019 @ 6:22pm

    Re: Re: Don't forget the real beneficiary of the drug war, the C

    Nothing like that would ever happen
    Iran Contra was nothing like it at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2019 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Re:

    That's better than minimum wage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Personanongrata, 6 May 2019 @ 6:57pm

    Justice US Government Style

    And that's the end of the story. The lower court granted qualified immunity to the DEA agents, stating no policy or guideline or action/inaction could have foreseeably led to this tragic turn of events. It also allowed the US government to duck the federal court claims, finding the complaint failed to state a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

    Nothing to see here folks move along.... you can all go back to sleep now as the worthless federal court Jesters of the 10th Circuit Kangaroo court of appeals have rendered forth their defective decision.

    It's business as usual.

    Maybe there really is no clear path to holding the government accountable for the damage done by its war on drugs. All we can do, for the most part, is count the costs: the trillions of dollars and the thousands of lives.

    There are many a clear path to holding the government accountable for the damage done by its war on drugs.

    Unfortunately each and every clear path requires sacrifice for those who dare tread upon it.

    There could be national strike week where all persons seeking to make the US government aware of the fact that they have revoked their consent to be governed by moral busy bodies operating under the guise of law and order.

    Imagine no payroll taxes collected for an entire week.

    Zero economic activity to be measured.

    All the worthless non-productive tax-feeding fraction of American turd-holes on their own.

    The possibilities are boundless. The only thing lacking is you. You can overcome the learned helplessness conditioning you have been subliminally bombarded with your entire life. Get off the couch don't be a spectator. Existing on your knees is no substitute to living on your feet.

    Revolt! Slaves Revolt!

    To borrow a line from the great American wordsmith Kurt Vonnegut:

    You are not alone

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    TDR, 6 May 2019 @ 7:06pm

    Re: Justice US Government Style

    Then why aren't you doing it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Seegras (profile), 7 May 2019 @ 12:59am

    Re: Re: Don't forget the real beneficiary of the drug war, the C

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 May 2019 @ 1:45am

    Re: Re: Don't forget the real beneficiary of the drug war, the C

    Mena, Arkansas. Do some research, Agammamon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 7 May 2019 @ 5:54am

    Re:

    For the purposes of qualified immunity. As it stands today. But qualified immunity needs to include a reasonable person test.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anon, 7 May 2019 @ 8:30am

    What ABout he Child?

    Surely any argument that "it's too late to file" should include the fact that a child who is hurt should have the option to sue any time up to a year or two after they turn 18.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 May 2019 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re:

    For the purposes of qualified immunity.

    But, and maybe this is where you're going with the "reasonable person" test... Putting a violent child abuser in a home with a child could foreseeably lead to the abuser committing more violence and abuse.

    I just don't see how that's non-obvious. Putting it in bold still doesn't stress the point enough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2019 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: Don't forget the real beneficiary of the drug war, the C

    It takes incredibly will to dodge the abundance on information of CIA dealing drugs, fam, do better and don't like boots.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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