Police and Drug Enforcement Agency agents (DEA) in Pharr Texas thought that they had captured a large meth smuggling operation. Juan Carlos Toscano Guzman from Mexico was arrested for transporting 700 gallons worth of methamphetamine. He spent six weeks behind bars. However, it was not illegal drug. This is not the fault of drug field tests, which have resulted in hundreds of other wrong arrests.
This is the case first reportedBy the Fort Worth Star-TelegramThe incident began when a Pharr officer observed three men transfer liquid from large barrels to a tanker truck. An officer noticed unusual crystallization and called for backup.
The following is an extract from the Criminal complaintGuzman’s case was filed in federal court. Pharr firemen and police officers as well as DEA special agents tested the liquid contained in barrels for drugs using drug field testing. All returned positive for methamphetamines. The DEA estimates that the haul contained 700 gallons liquid methamphetamines with a street worth of over $10 million. This seizure was the subject of headlines in all parts of New York.
Andy Harvey, Pharr Chief Police Officer said that “this massive drug seizure affects way beyond where it was headed,” Facebook Post. The reason for this was a patrol officers attention to details when they noticed something that wasn’t normal and then he utilized our resources to investigate further. It’s great police work!
However, a DEA criminal lab later invalidated those field test results. This led to prosecutors dropping their case against Guzman in March. Guzman’s lawyer said to the Star-Telegram, that Guzman was driving a combination of diesel oil.
As Reason reportedLast year, these drug-field test kits were manufactured by several companies. Police departments in the US and prisons across the country used them. Instant color reactions are used to detect certain substances in illicit drugs. But those same compounds may also be present in numerous licit substances. Although the test is simple, it’s still possible to make mistakes and misinterpret.
Although they’re not usually admissible to court as evidence, the police use them nonetheless to determine probable cause to arrest or jail individuals. There are hundreds of cases of wrongfully arrested people. Guilty pleasA defendant could be charged for testing results which crime labs had later invalidated.
Ju’zema Goldring, a resident of Atlanta, is an example. Took almost six monthsAfter police found sand in her purse, which was a stress ball that she had in her bag, officers placed her in Fulton County Jail in 2015. The crime lab determined that her mysterious powder, which was actually sand and not cocaine, kept her in prison for four months. Goldring, a civil rights suit against the federal government. RecipientHer $1.5 Million earlier this year.
Georgia’s 2019 college football quarterback was caught with bird poop in his car PositiveFor cocaine. In 2017, a Florida man was unfairly imprisoned after failing a field testing. His donut glaze was mistaken for meth.
In 2016, sheriff’s deputies in Monroe County, Georgia, ArrestDasha Fincher from Macon was arrested after she found blue crystals in a plastic baggie inside her car. NARK II testing of the substance revealed a presumptive negative for methamphetamines. Fincher was arrested and charged with trafficking as well as possession with intent to distribute methamphetamines. Fincher spent three months in prison before a state crime laboratory confirmed that the substance was blue candy.
follow-up investigationA Georgia news station discovered that NARK II produced 145 false negatives in Georgia in 2017.
More than 12 Massachusetts lawyers were employed last year They claimed they had been falsely chargedThey sent drugs to their clients incarcerated, and they were placed in isolation for legitimate legal mail. Synthetic opioids can be smuggled to prison by sopping papers with the drug. Class-action Forensic legal proceedingsThe Massachusetts Department of Corrections was challenged in this case for using NARK II field testing to identify contraband and penalize incarcerated persons.
These cases will continue to pop up until police and prisons recognize the limits of these tests. Innocent people such as Guzman, who did nothing wrong, will lose their freedom.