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DEA Forgets Student in Cell, Pols Want Answers

The DEA and its parent agency, the Justice Department, have come under increasing criticism over the case of a University of California-San Diego student who was swept up in a drug raid, placed in a holding cell, and forgotten. When 23-year-old Daniel Chong was finally discovered five days later, his condition was so poor he was hospitalized for three days in intensive care.

The DEA has since apologized for the incident, but US representatives and senators from California are demanding answers, and Chong and his attorney have filed a $20 million lawsuit against the agency.

Chong was one of nine people swept up in a raid targeting Ecstasy traffickers early in the morning of April 21. Chong said that he had gone to the residence the night before -- the marijuana holiday of 4/20 -- "to get high" and was arrested along with the others the next morning. DEA agents booked all nine, then transported seven to local jails, released one person, and apparently forgot all about Chong.

In an interview with the Associated Press last Wednesday, Chong said that after waiting hours in the cell, which had no toilet or running water, he screamed and kicked the door, to no avail. As the days dragged on, he said he realized he was trapped. On day three, he began to hallucinate. He urinated on a metal bench so he could drink his urine to quench his thirst. He eventually began to accept that he would die in the cell. He bit into his glasses to break them and used a shard of glass to carve "Sorry, Mom" on his arm as a farewell, but only got as far as the letter "S".

He said he was considering using the glass to kill himself and end his suffering. "I pretty much lost my mind," he said. He also admitted ingesting some methamphetamine that had been left hidden in a mattress in the cell by a previous occupant.

Then, on day five, a DEA agent opened the door to find the still handcuffed Chong covered in his own feces. "Where did you come from?" the agent asked.

The engineering student for taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus. He had lost 15 pounds. He spent three days in intensive care and two more days at the hospital before being released.

San Diego DEA Special Agent in Charge William Sherman apologized to Chong, though not directly, and said in a statement he was "deeply troubled" by the incident. Sherman said he had ordered an extensive review of policies and procedures at the office.

That wasn't good enough several members of the state's congressional delegation, who have demanded answers from the DEA and the Justice Department.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) last Wednesday called on US Attorney General Eric Holder to begin an "immediate and thorough" Justice Department investigation into the matter. "After the investigation is completed, I ask that you please provide me with the results and the actions the department will take to make sure those responsible are held accountable and that no one in DEA custody will ever again be forced to endure such treatment," she wrote.

On Thursday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-San Diego), head of the House Government Oversight Committee, called for in investigation, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-San Diego County) sent a letter to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart asking for a full accounting of Chong's detention, processes in place for accounting for detained individuals, and the steps the DEA is taking to ensure it doesn't happen again.

"The situation involving Chong may in fact be an isolated incident," Hunter wrote. "Regardless, my concern is that this situation could also be a symptom of a bigger problem, with errors in procedure and oversight possibly extending to the division's law enforcement function."

Chong is "still recovering" from his ordeal, San Diego attorney Gene Iredale, who is representing him, said at a press conference last Wednesday. "He thought he was going insane," Iredale added.

Iredeale filed preliminary papers for the $20 million law suit last Wednesday. The suit alleges Chong was treated in a way that constitutes torture under US and international law.

"He is glad to be alive," Iredale said of Chong. "He wants to make sure that what happened to him doesn't happen to anyone else."

San Diego, CA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Politicians are finally taking notice

I am very pleased to see that Senator Boxer is demanding answers from the DEA. In this area of Upstate New York, our elected leaders have repeatedly dropped the ball when these drug raids go awry and cause harm to innocent people. The politicians here in Schenectady avoid taking any action claiming that if a warrant was signed law enforcement had a legitimate reason to conduct the raid.

It's also refreshing to see that parties of both sides appear interested and motivated to get to the bottom of the DEA brutal and negligent actions. Thank God the student lived to be able tell his ordeal. Hopefully to a jury that will award him for punitive damages as well as pain and suffering. This case could mark a turning point in how the public views the DEA and end the practice of  the media giving them the benefit of the doubt. 


My only criticism is that media barely mentioned this story. They have devoted a ton of their resources to a former football player who committed suicide in the same city of San Diego and a blind political activist in China that escape capture from his government. THIS STORY SHOULD BE HUGE BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS STUDENT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO ANYONE!  Perhaps through the social media networks the people will force the media to give this tragedy the time and space it deserves. Drug reformers can't let this tragic event become yesterday's news.




Thank You Mr. Chong

Thank you Daniel.

You may not yet realize what your ordeal has done. You have triggered an investigation into a agency that has become the largest law enforcement arm known to humankind. The DEA needs to be under scrutiny for their aparent "above the law" attitude and the harm the DEA brings to so many citizens of this nation and so many others (Columbia's, Mexico's DEA funded drug war).

I am sure that we will find that there have been many others like yourself that have had to endure the incompetence of an agency that has become to powerful to be of any use to the public it no longer serves. What they get away with on a daily basis is due to the lack of attention from the mass media and the public. I hope that your experience will allow others to share their DEA experiences to bing about change (not the Obama kind of change...) to bring the DEA back into compliance with the will of the republic.

Let's lock them up and see if

Let's lock them up and see if they like warm piss they can start with mine

Very sorry for suffering how

Very sorry for suffering how bout eye for eye which punk agent wants to be locked up first for 5 days O you said I'll go first well I will give u something to drink for your 5 Days guess what you get a nice big pail of my warm piss what a bunch of fuck ups , you guys couldn't get a job even with the secret service

Surely when you try to tell

Surely when you try to tell people " You're so shit you couldn't get a job at..." you should quote a place where it is easy to work, therefore saying they are so shit they couldn't even get a job at an easy place. Whereas you mentioned the secret service.....quite hard for anyone to get a job with them, really.  :)

What a bunch of fuck ups

What a bunch of fuck ups

"Where did you come from?" the agent asked.

He's part of the human race, DEA agent. Which is a lot more than I can say about Gestapo style animals like you (No disrespect intended towards non-human animals). We have no way of knowing whether this was a mistake or not. The DEA is fully capable of doing something like this deliberately. Just their way of sending a message to the tens of millions of people they consider to be no better than animals, for using drugs that aren't alcohol, tobacco or big pharma concoctions.

How many people does alcohol kill and maim, DEA? And cannabis? Answer the fucking question, you goddamn filthy thugs. 

Continued fascist attacks by Obama's people

Brothers and Sisters,


All I can say is that this is an election year.  If we don't make changes here in the USA, and restore our Constitutional civil liberties, the global community will rise up against us.  Obama's message of "change" was nothing more than a hoax perpetuated by the D.C./Tel Aviv global police state network to slime Obama into the White House and let them continue their attacks on our civil liberties.

The one good thing Obama and Michelle Leonhart have done is prove that fascism has no racial and gender guidelines.  Under them, the attacks on our civil liberties has continued. 

Yes, Mr. Chong's suffering will get him a deserved settlement.  More than that, it should be a wake-up call for all of us.

Kick Dept of Prohibition Out of State!!!

It's time to get back to the Constitutional restrictions on the Federal government and end the Department of Prohibition (aka DEA) once and for all. This is a free country and we have a right to our bodies as adult Citizens. KICK THE BASTARDS OUT OF CALIFORNIA!!!

USA Out of North America!


USA Out of North America!



Thank goodness the kid was alive to tell the story!  If they'd found him dead, I could imagine them saying it was a suicide to cover their asses.

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