Legal Question in Constitutional Law in California

Our county recently experienced an FBI investigation. Working in collaboration with local law enforcement and other county government agencies it resulted in multiple arrests for trafficking charges and other charges involving the sales of ounces of methamphetamine. The informant,who was working for the FBI, is a man who was a meth offender in the late 1970s and he has been working undercover for 30 plus years. In all the cases the informant was selling the meth to the individuals now facing 5-40years or life for some. The drugs were not taken off the streets for our community they were put there and distributed to people here in order to arrest them on federal charges. It was the governments dope. The community had been deceived.The news emphasized many of the sales were near parks or schools.The informant was abusing the drug interveniously along with the potential buyers in many of the transactions. The man is also a convicted sex offender. How is this legal and not entrapment or criminal itself giving a violent offender full access to drugs and then also using his testimony as evidence?

Asked on 5/01/13, 9:02 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Entrapment involves a lot more than just setting a trap. If that's all it was, police could never conduct sting operations.

Police only entrap a suspect if they push him into committing a crime he otherwise would not have been willing to commit. Merely providing the opportunity isn't enough.

I don't understand your complaint that "the community has been deceived". Are you saying the community had a right to believe its local meth dealer wasn't working with the feds? That argument isn't going to get you very far.

The informant's criminal background won't get you very far either. Informants in cases like this usually do have criminal backgrounds. That's why they know what to do, and it's why law enforcement is able to pressure them into cooperating.

That leaves your complaint that the FBI supplied the drugs. Law enforcement *always* supplies the drugs in a sting like this. They then verify that the drugs they find in the suspect's possession are the same ones they provided to the informant.

This would only be a problem if the FBI was supplying drugs that worked their way into the community. That's not likely. The FBI probably recovered all (or nearly all) of the drugs when the suspects were arrested.

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Answered on 5/02/13, 12:35 pm

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