DEA Raid Puts Two Sons In
Jail Even Though No Drugs Found

By Joe Miller

A family in Pueblo, Colo., is suing the DEA and the Colorado Bureau of Investigations after a no-knock raid resulted in their two sons being arrested and jailed despite the fact no drugs were found on the premises.
According to the suit, "black-masked, black-helmeted men brandishing automatic weapons and wearing all-black uniforms with no insignias suddenly burst into the house unannounced, kicked the family's dog across the floor, ordered the entire family to 'get on the [expletive] floor,' held them at gunpoint, searched the house, found no drugs or contraband, but nevertheless carted off the family's two sons, Dave and Marcos, and imprisoned them illegally and without charges.
" The ACLU of Colorado filed the suit for the family, according to the <LINK> Feb. 21 Rocky Mountain News. Court documents date the raid Aug. 19, 2000.
"The next thing we knew," said Dan Unis, the father of the family and a Pueblo County social worker, "there were five or six police with masks and automatic weapons and stuff yelling at us. It wasn't the nicest language in the world. I see my dog go flying across the room because one of them kicked it.
"Unis said he asked them for a warrant, but "they couldn't produce one."
So far, neither the DEA nor the CBI have had anything to say about the case. But Mark Silverstein, ACLU legal director, said this: "Once again the war on drugs misses the target and instead scores a direct hit on the Constitution. These government agents had no search warrant, no arrest warrant and no lawful authority whatsoever. They carried out this armed home invasion in flagrant disregard of the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable searches and arrests without probable cause."
"I think it was a bunch of cowboys out having a good time," said Unis. "It was totally unnecessary." And unconstitutional. Police cannot arrest and jail people for days at a time without filing charges; it's called illegal detention.
While being unconstitutional and unnecessary, many such raids are also foolhardy and deadly.
Officers of the six-county Capital Area Narcotics Task Force, one of 49 federally funded, multijurisdictional narcotics teams operating in Texas, "were accused of mistaking ragweed for marijuana in May when they raided a Spicewood home and held residents at gunpoint as they ransacked the property and [somebody call PETA] kicked the homeowner's dog," according to a Feb. 4, Austin American-Statesman article. That version of the story, taken from court documents, is denied by the taskforce overseer, but of late CANTF hasn't had much luck in being safe.
Tony Martinez, 19 and unarmed, was killed by taskforce officers during a raid on a mobile home in Del Valle, Texas, Dec. 2001. He wasn't even the target of the raid.
Deputy Keith Ruiz was shot dead during a drug raid while breaking down the door of a different Del Valle mobile home Feb. 15, 2001. Thinking there were burglars outside, Edwin Delamore, 21, fired from inside and killed Ruiz. He's now charged with capital murder.
When Jacqueline Paasch was stirred out of bed at 6:30 a.m., April 7, 2000, by a commotion downstairs in her West Milwaukee home, she probably didn't expect to be gunned down. But, as the Feb. 7 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tells the story, based on an anonymous tip about "possible drug activity at a home in the 1700 block of S. 54th St., and then finding marijuana seeds in a garbage receptacle near the home," a tactical unit of the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department burst into Paasch's home and shot her.
Paasch, who was hit in the left leg, now has limited use of her toes and needs a brace for walking long distances. The city denies any wrongdoing but did recently agree to pay $700,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Paasch.
The settlement, said Paasch's attorney, Mark Thomsen, "reflects the reality that the county could not reasonably justify the shooting.
" The same could be said about the settlement for the Sepulveda family of Modesto, Calif., though it was dramatically smaller. Eleven-year-old Alberto Sepulveda was shot dead during a Sept. 13, 2000, SWAT raid that targeted the boy's father. An officer on the scene accidentally squeezed off a shot, killing the boy instantly. Last month, the family settled a federal lawsuit over the death.
The only question that remains: Can $450,000 replace Alberto? If we didn't have so many unconstitutional and reckless drug raids, such a question would never have to be answered.
From Marilyn A. Guinnane
Your recent article on the DEA raiding in Pueblo, CO, turns a neon attention getter to the inequities abounding in this country, yet much to our collective shame, we do nothing to undo it. As just about everyone and his uncle knows, the CIA is the biggest drug running organization in the world. So who does the DEA think its fooling, busting in doors, wearing black masks! These are terror tactics and nothing less. You'd have to be a monkey not to see it.
Paraphrasing the cartoon character Pogo, "I have seen the terrorists, and the terrorists are us." A shame John Kennedy weren't around to write: While AMERICA Slept (in reference to his book While England Slept).

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