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DEA Ordered to Pay $1 Million for Botched Sting


April 1995

A federal judge in Miami awarded six Belizean men $1 million for a botched U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sting operation ("Victims of Failed DEA Sting Win More-Than-$1-Million Judgment," Drug Enforcement Report, Mar. 23, 1995, p. 1).

The men, who were passengers and crew on a flight from Belize to Miami, were arrested and jailed when they made a side-trip to Honduras. Customs officials there found 45 kilograms of cocaine in the plane. Five of the six were beaten, kicked down flights of stairs, and locked in cells.

The drugs confiscated by the Honduran officials had been placed on the plane by U.S. DEA agents working with Belizean officials. The operation was intended to nab suspected U.S. drug dealers who were to pick up the package in Miami. The DEA said they did not know that the plane would make a stop in Honduras.

The judge said that the incident was the result of an inter-agency squabble and lack of communication between the U.S. Customs Service and the DEA.