By Tom O’Connell
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., May 13, 2016 – An affidavit obtained by Burque Media from a confidential source spells out plans by the Albuquerque Police Department to go after low-level drug users in a reverse buy-bust operation. In a reverse buy-bust, undercover agents sell drugs to citizens, and then arrest them for possession. Part of that operation involves APD manufacturing crack cocaine from powdered cocaine.
Section 10 of the 12-section “Affidavit and Motion to Release Evidence,” dated February 25, 2016, states: “Powdered cocaine may be taken to APD’s Criminalistics Unit to be made into crack cocaine.”
It also calls for the “release up to but not to exceed eight (8) ounces of cocaine base (commonly referred to as crack), up to but not to exceed eight (8) ounces of cocaine, up to but not to exceed eight (8) ounces of heroin, and up to but not to exceed eight (8) ounces of Methamphetamine from the Albuquerque Police Department’s Evidence Unit to detectives of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Narcotics Unit for use in a ‘Reversal Operation.’”
The document, which may have been revealed during the discovery process in a criminal case, according to the confidential source, cites citizen complaints as the impetus for the buy-bust operation.
“The business[es], patrons, and residents have complained about drug dealing throughout the City of Albuquerque,” it states. “Citizens have contacted Detectives complaining about being asked, by people walking/driving through the City of Albuquerque, if they wanted to purchase drugs….”
The source said the document is essentially an official request by APD to check drugs out of evidence for use in its operation, which will run from February 25, 2016, through the end of the year.
The source also said the operation may be targeting Albuquerque’s most vulnerable residents: homeless drug addicts.
The wording in section 3 of the affidavit suggests that these low-level reverse buy-busts might just be the thing to stop the flow of drugs, where other drug enforcement measures have failed.
“Law enforcement has tried many methods and has been unable to effectively stop the supply of drugs to the street dealers and users in these areas,” it states. “These methods include but are not limited too [sic] successfully purchasing drugs from drug dealers in the area. Other traditional methods of narcotic investigations have not been completely successful in curtailing the drug trafficking in the City of Albuquerque.”
Former Chief Deputy District Attorney and former Chief Public Safety Officer Pete Dinelli responded to the affidavit incredulously, and doubted its veracity until its filing was confirmed. He told Burque Media his concerns with these kinds of stings.
“This is a practice I have frowned upon because of the use of seized drugs already tagged into evidence, and I have not seen it for some time,” said Dinelli. “It’s downright dangerous to be using drugs seized in other drug busts because of chain-of-custody issues and the risk associated with not being able to track what happens. The city could also be exposed to liability for using tainted drugs that they lose track of. This is a very poor law enforcement practice.”