Another Ugly Moment For US’ War Against Marijuana Consumers

In what can only be described as a horrible tragedy for college student Daniel Chong–as well as for the American taxpayer–the Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration has agreed to pay $4.1 million dollars to Mr. Chong for falsely imprisoning him after an April 20, 2012 party, and worse, literally forgetting about him in a holding cell for five days where Mr. Chong drank his own urine to survive, and cut himself to leave a dying message to his mother.

To date no DEA field agents or local managers have been held responsible for this gross error (ironically, only the taxpayer is left being the responsible party in this legal nightmare).

This kind of abuseful and money-wasting government nitwittery is another prime example of why cannabis prohibition must end in America post haste.

San Diego Union Tribune article about the settlement, and previous news coverage, is below:

DEA settles left-in-cell case for $4M

By Jeff McDonald1:08 a.m.July 30, 2013

Daniel Chong, the self-confessed pot smoker who was caught up in a drug sweep last year and nearly died after federal agents inadvertently abandoned him in a holding cell for five days without food or water, is now a millionaire.

Attorney Eugene Iredale announced Tuesday he reached a $4.1 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, without even filing a lawsuit.

The harrowing experience for Chong, 25, an engineering student, began on a Friday night in 2012, when he admittedly went to some friends’ house in University City to celebrate April 20, a special date for marijuana users.

Chong didn’t know it at the time, but the home had been under surveillance by a federal narcotics task force.

Drug agents executed a search warrant early in the morning of April 21, Among other things, they found 18,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana and several weapons in the residence, according to court papers.

The agents also found Chong sleeping on a couch in the front room and transported him and six others to the San Diego field office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for follow-up interviews.

Chong said he answered all of the agents’ questions and they agreed to send him home without criminal charges.

But instead he was returned to a temporary holding cell, where he spent the next four days without food or water. He has said he became delirious, drank his own urine, ate the broken shards of his glasses and used the glass to cut the message “sorry mom” in his own forearm.

He said he kicked the door and screamed for help but agents never came to his assistance. DEA agents admitted later they “accidentally” left Chong in the cell and took the unusual step of apologizing publicly to the UCSD student.

DEA officials declined to comment about the case Monday.

Findings of an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Department of Justice have not been released.

51 thoughts

  1. No doubt the DEA will spin this tragedy into a story about the dangers of smoking marijuana.

  2. Just another DEA (DEAD END ATROCITIES) blunder of the 21ST CENTURY INQUISITORS. The FEDERALISTS complain about HUMAN RIGHTS in other countries. This is BIG BROTHER and the POLICE STATE at their FINEST and want to control us with their ORWELLIAN MENTALITY. ONLY IN AMERIKA!

  3. Look forward to your treatment, potheads, no matter what the law says, they can still arrest you, hold you indefinitely, beat you, refuse you food and water, and then let you go without charging you for a crime. Just like they do to hippie protesters, gays in the south, and black folks minding their own business in the white part of town.

  4. I heard a similar story from a lady friend in Boise a couple of years ago, of being locked up then forgotten about.

  5. What a perfect storm for anti-drug prohibition policy; The Danny Chong settlement hits the front page at the same time Uruguay sends marijuana legalization to it’s Senate, on its way to becoming the first Country to legalize cannabis outright. Sending us smoke signals South America?
    One thing that the Associated Press has missing from this story is that the DEA planted meth in Danny’s cell. That’s right, no food, no water, no toilet, but they made damn sure the young man had meth on him just in case an autopsy reported dehydration or they needed to trump charges to avoid prosecution– for torturing the guy on the couch whose only crime was he smoked a joint! The Controlled Substance Act breeds so many corrupt cops that planting meth is standard operating procedure.
    Here’s the link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_of_Daniel_Chong
    Towards the end of the paragraph, it states;
    “…while incarcerated, he had to drink his own urine for hydration, and ingested some methamphetamine that he found under a blanket inside the cell in order to keep himself awake.”
    Once again, as I’ve said in previous posts, 4.1 million is just hush money. A drop in the bucket compared to asset forfeitures– IF the DEA isn’t punishing taxpayers by using OUR money to pay the legal fees! How can Congress tell? There’s no oversight when you get a blank check from Congress, get to write your own drug laws, and get flimsy warrants signed to go and gustapo someone’s house anywhere on the planet whenever you want more money.
    With settlements like these, the DEA shows fear that if people like Chong don’t accept a settlement and don’t rescind their right to a jury, Chong could have sued the DEA based on being unconstitutionally organized under the Controlled Substance Act by allowing an executive agency legislate U.S. drug policy. One more Danny Chong with a “DannyChongFund.com” to foot the legal bills and a pro marijuana Supreme Court could overturn the C.S.Act. A “dot com” donation station may not make him 4.1 million in 1 year, but it would cover his school, medical and legal fees… And stop this from ever happening again, which is what Danny said he wanted to do on an interview with NPR when he considered suing in the first place. His lawyers talked him into the settlement. With %20 comission, that’s no big surprise.
    Ah, well, maybe he can donate to Norml.org?
    Seriously,is the DEA getting stupider every year or is the world just waking up? Both and more, usually… I was digging into the files, and it appears on the same day the DEA pulls its annual “crackdown” cannabis roundup on 4-20, they make some really, REALLY troubling mistakes. I mean 4-20 must really piss off the DEA; the same day Chong was immorally imprisoned and tortured, a couple from Kansas had their home raided by DEA agents on a flimsy warrant for buying hydroponics at the local farmers market to grow indoor tomatoes.
    Yup, here’s the link:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/kansas-couple-raided-gardening-equipment-article-1.1303092
    Addlyn and Robert Harte were waking up 7:30 am to the terror of their young children when “it looked like zero dark thirty” through their front door when DEA came storming in. The DEA had been surveilling their house (at tax payer’s expense) after the Hartes bought hydroponic equipment from the store. To the disappointment and surprise of the DEA, all they found in the basement were indoor tomatoes. They also discovered the Hartes were retired CIA agents. Woops! The DEA handed the Hartes a receipt stating “no property taken.” The Hartes sued the County Attorney’s office.
    And if this story can leave us with a moment of zen any greater than a receipt to wipe one’s @$$ after having the $#!+ scared out of you in front of your wife and kids, let’s leave the last words from the very noble-hearted Mrs. Harte;
    “If this can happen to us and we are educated and have reasonable resources, how does somebody who maybe hasn’t led a perfect life supposed to be free in this country?” Adlynn Harte said.
    Well said, Mrs. Harte. Well said.

  6. Justice served, well, somewhat. It’s too bad he didn’t get the 20 million he was seeking. Anything to break the DEA’s bank. No money, no more terrorizing pot smokers.

  7. its sad that our politicians are so blind and greedy. our country: people wake up! remember a while back when Obama’s speach was telivised where all the audiance was shown, a sea of white and grey hair! this is who controls this country. is this a government of the people for the people, and by the people? same tricky dickey that screwed us up in vietnam, iraq, afganistan, and wherever else “we” americans can go to offset old amno screw up another poor country.let the dea go guard our border. let people go back to where we were free. legalize regulate and support treatment for those who wish the help.

  8. What happened to Daniel Chong is an idiotic tragedy! However, Mr. Chong is not simply a peaceful marijuana user because:

    “Among other things, they found 18,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana and several weapons in the residence”

    I believe he should be given at least 20 million dollars for his torture and it should come directly from the DEA’s budget!

    This is the kind of thing that goes on because of the War on Drugs. If all drugs were legal and regulated, this sort of thing wouldn’t be happening. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that, probably, every drug out there is more dangerous than marijuana. It is beyond STUPID for the DEA to continue listing marijuana as a schedule 1 drug alongside truly dangerous drugs.

    However, I believe that legalizing all drugs would be better than the way our Govt has been handling things. Their policies have been disastrous for our country and countless individuals.

  9. Welcome to America home of the best country on earth. Unfortunately are government is a whole different story. How do you forget about a prisoner… Terrorist get better treatment in our prisons but a college pot head doing good things in his life gets that treatment. Sickening…. Fuck the dea buncha idiots.

  10. What happened to Daniel Chong is an idiotic tragedy! However, Mr. Chong is not simply a peaceful marijuana user because:

    “Among other things, they found 18,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana and several weapons in the residence”

    Hello, did you read the actual story? The DEA were raiding the house of a drug dealer which Mr. Chong just happened to be at the time. They didn’t charge him, and they planted meth to try and get him on something. They guy with the pills is now a slave–er… prisoner. Yeah, that’s right, prisoner…

  11. @Apeman Quite true
    @Elaine I agree with your sentiments on all points, except we all must be more careful to attach guilt by association. That is precisely the tactic that the Justice Department counts on for too many U.S. indightments to count. If the DEA hadn’t had to take Danny to a hospital and create a medical report, the DEA and San Diego DA’s office would have already used Danny’s friend to hit him with conspiracy 1 charges if they aren’t already using the “slave” as an informant as we speak. And where extortion doesn’t work, planting evidence is standard back up procedure.
    The fact that planting meth was left out of the AP settlement report is almost as troubling as its common practice within drug enforcement. Think about this for a moment; What if the headlines had read “UC student dies from overdose of methamphetamine. Parents of engineering major are disgraced.”
    There is reasonable suspicion here that the DEA agents involved should be charged with attemptive murder.

  12. Correction, the DEA should be charged with “attempted murder,” among many other charges such as criminal negligence, and unconstitutionally legislating drug policy without an elected legislative authority. But “attemptive murder,” could be described as a DEA policy…

  13. Funny how so many states are decriminalizing marijuana but, the Federal Government has ramped up it’s efforts to stomp out all support of marijuana. We are actually worse off now then we were 5 years ago but, nobody wants to talk about that. There were more doors kicked in by the DEA in the last 4 years than the entire last two presidents. Wake up America!

  14. He deserved to be locked up and forgotten for four days, after all….he is one of those bad ass pot smokers.

  15. Miles , thanks for the link. I gave that moron a piece of my mind. Basically, I highlighted the fact that DEA is a government sponsored terrorist organization that preys on UNARMED people disobeying an unjust law – AN AMERICAN RIGHT. I also said that if I can expect the DEA to show up at my door one day on a bad “tip” looking for weed, that I should be armed with the same weapons the DEA is armed with because I have a right to defend my home from all threats. So give me what the DEA has – AK47s, grenades, flack jackets, the whole 9 yards.

    I concluded with “See how stupid your war on pot smokers is?”

  16. Thank you Owen for helping the cause. Now, if only about 1,000,000 or more people would only help… I don’t expect that though since most people are afraid to get their names on a Do Not Hire list, or a a Do Not Give any Educational Assistance list, or a Watch This Person for Unusual Activity list…

    So much for the Land of the Free. It seems that many other countries are much more free than we are here in America!

  17. @Julian – You’re right. I re-read the article and agree! I hate the DEA so bad; like most of the enlightened portion of our country.

  18. Well Miles, I have sad news. She just replied to my email saying because I am from out of state they couldn’t read my email….blah blah blah…. but if you would kindly resubmit your text to me at this address, blah blah blah…

    There is no way to resubmit the original text to her… and she knew it. So my message never really got thru.

  19. @Elaine- Glad you did. We’re all aloud to be wrong somtimes, as long as were brave enough to correct ourselves:) I’m sure self-discipline is more difficult for an agent who wakes up after “training day” and realizes he or she robs, tortures, extorts and kills for a living. Redemption for law enforcement that “wakes up” is the premise of LEAP.cc where cops describe how hard it is to get out of the drug enforcement trade “once you’re in it.”
    When you said you “hate” the DEA, I was compelled to agree, however, having had a mother who contracted for the State Department I’m aware that real people work for the government, and we all too often blame good people for bad policies… nah; still hate’m.
    Take for example the DOJ; While I’m sure there are good people working for the Justice Department… (well, at least I can HOPE)… I slam the name of the DOJ all the time without distinguishing the people from the policies. And I’m about to again. My problem is I can’t find a good apple on the whole rotten tree of Justice. And I’ve looked!
    What is unacceptable to me is the criminal-minded policy-for-profit-driven culture inside the Justice Department. I KNOW someone who has been trying to join the DEA for years because his goal is to GET asset forfeitures, not to win a stupid drug war. He’s finally getting a chance from his ranking officer in the military to join special forces and tour Nicaragua this fall. He smiles like the devil when I talk about seizing assets. And what’s the use of an FBI backround check when we find out how corrupt agents in the FBI are responsible for thug-informants like Whitey Bulger and the whole Irish Mafia drama on trial? It’s like asking Capone to do a backround check on Bugsy; the only way prevention works under the C.S.Act is when their informants are competing for the same turf.
    I have very personal reasons to hate the DEA’s policies… long before this Danny Chong incident occured. For starters, my wife is Mexican, and we travel every year– with concern.
    But there’s another reason; Over the years we watched the DEA destroy the life of a very good friend (We’ll call him Al). He was drunk one night and on his third marriage when he told me he was an informant on the back porch of a rough neighborhood where he was “working.” Al was busted with some cocaine 13 years ago and Al being the socialite that he is, he knew people. The DEA forced him into being an informant. They took his foreign passport and gave him what the Justice Department calls a “J” visa– which basically means you can stay in the country and see your wife again as long as you work for “us.” He was in tears when he explained that the reason his second wife left him was for doing what he was told; he never explained to her what he did at night. Staying out late without explanation makes for a short marriage. The horrible irony is his wives were always in danger anyway! Dealers were always showing up in the middle of the night; that’s when they work. The DEA just wanted the wife in the dark, but they didn’t care if they could lure a dealer in front of a camera where the wife lives! With the threat of deportation, Al just told his wife he was on drugs.
    He told me at first he couldn’t sleep anyway, always afraid when he would get a visit from a dealer– or a “friend” (agent). But after he lost count of how many times some drug dealer played Russian roulette to his head, his blood went cold. He says nothing matters anymore, but I know that’s not true. The agents keep telling him “one more bust,” but it took them 10 years to take down one of the city’s biggest crime bosses, after milking profits and soaking up all the money and little guys in a controlled, monitored crime ring. That’s how the DEA works. And the informants risk their necks and do all the dirty work.
    Al told his third wife what he does recently, who he’s still with remarkably, and they’ve been on the lamb for a few months now, hiding out in some forgotten corner of the nation. I pray for them, but praying is not enough.
    Organizations like Norml are all that give me hope that we can restore some sense of dignity to our nation after 40 years of made to fail drug wars… donating to Non for profits are all we have left in Democracy to put the “justice” back in justice department…
    I still have an idea of what to do with the DEA –after the end of prohibition and the Controlled Substance Act. I view their role something closer to an accountable customs office, making sure that legal, well regulated commerce and trade of drugs crosses our borders; to allocate resources on actually CHECKING government planes and cargo containers for unauthorized transport; for good things, like looking for rhino horns around the world. (Hey, if we don’t dream, or imagine something better then what do we replace tyranny with?)
    I envision an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency that reports the traffic of arms to the public instead of sitting on sales records and “tracer” programs we all know sell arms to conflicting sides of contrived civil wars.
    I forsee a Centers for Disease Control that can research the dangers of gun-related deaths and the benefits of medicinal cannabis.
    Until these rights can be restored to American Democracy, then peace will remain a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained; and the only war we will we will have is a war with ourselves.

  20. Think about the rise that continues. We are on the move fellow advocates. There are now important cases being won and the momentum needs to continue. We have all of the power, all of the moral high ground, all of the facts supporting our side, are starting to see real public support, and now we have the courts starting to see things our way.
    I am not sure that there has been a better time in American history than now. We are continuing to evolve as a society pining for scientific knowledge to prove a points, we are returning to more agriculturally sound positions where the masses are huge proponents of localized food sources, and more and more people are becoming active participants in local/state politics.
    I applaud you all for your resolve and positive attitude throughout the rougher years.

  21. This money award should come out of the DEA’s funds for marijuana prohibition. Cut their money off for marijuana prohibition period. CAn you believe our Congressmen condone this type of treatment.

  22. Repeal the Patriot Act. Those that infringe on our rights and “Won Freedoms.” This act alone is taking our rights away. Texas, we need to remain strong and supportive of our mission to provide relief to those who suffer from pain daily. Those who also wish to use as legal adults for recreational use as is alcohol. A drug without the harmful side effects that both alcohol and prescription drugs entail. Why continue with the lies? We have years of studies thanks to our beloved Founder of NORML, Keith Stroup and his group of researchers. Why is Texas dragging it’s feet? I’ll tell you why. The Feds will lose money. Yes it will lessen the arrest locally but then the Feds become involved. The Feds need to have their staff cut back. I wonder how many would test positive? How many slide by? How many DEA agents would lose their jobs? NONE. Why are they protected and why are we persecuted? I respect Law Enforcement and their right to perform their assigned duties. I do not however support those who have little or no empathy for those who use it for medicinal purposes or those who wish to use as a way to relax. Be responsible adults. It is this group by far growing ever more so post war as well as treatment for diseases that have harmed man for years. Cancers, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, pain management and so many other illnesses can be treated without the fear of being poisoned by BIG PHARMA. I was so strung out by my pain medications I was a fall hazard, had problems with my comprehension, I missed out on so much of my life in 6.5 years. I’ve cut back with help and it has been hell. The withdraws and the emotions. I use a cane now to walk. No longer using a walker, but am in continuous pain. I’ve lost 60 lbs and am working on rebuliding my strength. I am afraid of arrest as I’ve never been. All I want as many of us do is to be able to change the laws to allow Marihuana to be used as a medicinal and or recreatrional product with laws in place to prevent black market profit. Proper dispensaries so that if you are in possession, the product will be labeled and can be directly traced to the company from whence it was manufactured. Look at what’s happened in our Nation’s Capitol. It it’s being legalized by some 20 states now. Some for medicinal and some for Industrial Hemp which I also support as it has many uses too numerous to list. Just think of the money that Texas could bring in. We could stay in the black as our Governor Rick Perry has done for the past 12 years. Not that I’m a Perry supporter his Toll Road Bill forces us to use these avenues and it is not cheap. The Greatest Texan by far is rolling in his grave. What we need is another Lyndon Baines Johnson. He cared about our State, our Country and our people. It’s time for a new leader. Let really do our homework on the upcoming Gubenitorial race. Let the New Jim Crow laws be repealed as well and stop racial profiling. Let us truly be ” The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”

  23. I hope the next lunatic who wants to do one of those aurora style shootings takes it out on the supreme court. wtf? marijuana is too dangerous too be legal but its impossible to od, while aspirin can kill you?

  24. Would america rather have violent meth addicts roaming the streets or people smoking Pot ?! It would be a much safer america without all the other drugs out there that cause people to be terribly violent . I’ve asked a lot of them out there randomly and they say they wouldn’t use the harder drugs if pot was legalized i don’t know why the gov don’t want to see. it would only calm people down unlike meth

  25. @watcher… the native americans do get certain benefits, including limited self sovereignty… kind of like what the Davidian sect claimed… are they not like the menonites? kind of a self governed system in system, apart from the rest… the PA constitution should allow such religious protections as the AK one

  26. @watcher… the native americans do get certain benefits, including limited self sovereignty… kind of like what the Davidian sect claimed… are they not like the menonites? kind of a self governed system in system, apart from the rest… the PA constitution should allow such religious protections as the AK one – See more at: http://blog.norml.org/2013/07/31/another-ugly-moment-for-us-war-against-marijuana-consumers/comment-page-1/#comment-196649

  27. guys we have to eliminate r and d… only building influence of independant party candidates and maybe libertarian party can get us some watchdogs who arent bought off yet… anyone in a small town, dont be discouraged from writing bc ppl still do read the paper

  28. The US yet lambasts foreigners for abusing civil liberties, where in a lot of respects we are the lowest. Its the Federal. State and Local are very weak, while federal are strong.

  29. also we have more influence and the state and local level. Free thinkers of the world, unite under the LP banner. End the monopoly which feeds the sheeple

  30. Federal law is very hard to break free from. I think that we should be forcing state justices to enforce their power to redistict any third party entity that wants to become an indian reservation

  31. how much longer are you going to allow the criminals to rule ???? tear it all down and hold them in a visible public cell for all to see, what are you waiting for

  32. we have met the enemy and omg its our government. they are probably on the take of all the $ from the cartells. seems kinda the old grey haired f–ks in the WH, are running the country into the ground. we’re losing our country. where’s the; of, for, and by the people? and yes i do vote, and i was 2x hopping he’d change the US. guess i was wrong.

  33. According To A 2010 FBI Report, Someone Dies Every Day As A Result Of A Police Pursuit, And The Majority Of Those Pursuits Begin With A Stop For A Traffic Violation. The Same Report Found That Innocent Bystanders Constitute 42 Percent Of Those Killed Or Injured In Police Pursuits.
    Los Angeles police were involved in 63 shootings in 2011, a 50% ncrease over any of the previous four years, OVER 50% OF PEOPLE KILLED WERE UNARMED!!!
    FBI does release annual statistics for a category entitled “justifiable homicide by weapon, law enforcement,” defined as “the killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.” This figure remained around 400 per year from 2007 to 2011. The number of such killings 6mos. into 2012 is estimated at 525 or more.

    MITCH ENGLANDER WANTS MARIJUANA GONE AND HE WANTS LAPD TO BE ABLE TO POLICE COMMUNITY’S INTERNET SINCE flash mob stole some phones!!!
    AND DISPENSARIES INCALI GGGOOOONNNNNEEEE

  34. We’re all getting sick of this marijuana-illegal BULLSHIT. The war on drugs (mainly Cannabis) is a miserable failure. There are more drugs now and better ones than when wynn-nixey started this laughable war on American citizens! If/when we get pot legal, we’ll be able to FEEL GOOD in our own homes without paranoia about cops busting in and ruining your life. It would also mean that the nixon-reagan fueled war would be done. Just think, instead of depression and all the “great” things that come with that, we could go to a local store and get medicine that works when you want it at the same price as everyone else without having to deal with someone from the mafia or a thug in an alley. Let God shed some light on these fools and make them realize that Cannabis is the BEST drug. You cannot die from it. It’s actually good for you. Sure life wouldn’t be 100% perfect, my cats will die, some asshole will try to feel better than me and I still won’t have millions of dollars but it would be so much better. Marijuana is already here, making it legal would make things better. We’re not going to go crazy and eat peoples faces despite what the DEA wants you to think. Use God(s) who invented Marijuana for maximum good effects. It would also bring billions in taxes, create millions of jobs, stop the cartels, keep people OUT of jail, keep pot OUT of children under 21’s hands and even save trees and the animals who live in them!

  35. we need a peaceable resolution. there are more of “us

    “us” and “them” there’s more of “us”, we are the majority. whats wrong with this picture? doesn’t anyone get it?

  36. Since this blog began, I noted that Uruguay legalized cannabis sale and distribution at the same time the Danny Chng settlement was published– leaving out only the meth planted in his cell. Who could have known that in less than two weeks the planet would finally reverse polarity! Attorney General Eric Holder announces “unintended consequences of the Drug War,” and intends to “reduce non-violent incarcerations to releave overcrowded prisons.”
    The prohibition propoganda of the Washington Post get bought out at the same time that the DEA’s SOD spying and evidence-fabrication machine is revealed. Coincidence? Consequence? Both and more?
    I agree with you Nathaniel; There has never been a greater time in American history; WE are ending these wars. We can take ownership with every donation, every letter to Congress and with the power of a laptop and some internet to get the word out.
    We may be a long, long way from putting the “justice” back in the Justice Deparment, but I want all my fellow activists to know how proud I am for all our hard work.
    Hell, I’m so motivated, I’m going to go and start a “Pot for Pot Poker Tournament” at poker night tonight. Proceeds go to NORML, my favorite anti-prohibition non-for profit. Thanks for being there.

  37. America… Land of the…FREE? Can never be as long as we are under the rule of people who don’t care about the human cause and just stuff manmade drugs down our throats that kill more people than all the wars in the world…

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