DEA Used Company’s Truck, Got A Driver Killed In Botched Drug Sting, And Won’t Pay A Cent


A U.S. District Judge has just ruled that the government agency responsible for using a company’s truck in a botched drug sting that got a driver killed and caused $100,000 worth of damage to the truck won’t have to pay the company owner anything for their mistake.

All the way back in 2011, one of Craig Patty’s two trucks was in the shop for repairs, or so he thought. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Agency was using the truck and its driver to haul a load of marijuana north from the Rio Grande Valley as part of a sting operation targeting the Los Zetas cartel.

Unfortunately, as the truck passed Houston, it was ambushed by cartel members and despite the fact that he was being shadowed by two dozen federal agents and local police, the driver was killed when the truck was shot full of bullets.

After the incident, the truck was ruined and needed repairs. The insurance company refused to pay for it since it had been used in a criminal act (hauling the marijuana), and the DEA refused to pay for it simply because they didn’t have to.

Since 2011, Patty has been fighting to make the DEA pay him the money he feels he is owed. His is currently fighting for $133,532 in repairs and lost wages for the time the truck wasn’t able to be used, and $1.3 million in damages to himself and his family who have lived in fear of retaliation by the cartels since the incident.

Now a judge has ruled that the DEA doesn’t have to pay him back because it doesn’t have a rule against doing what it did. Despite the fact that the DEA wiped away the driver’s substantial criminal record so that he would be hired, despite the fact that they used the driver and equipment for illegal activities, despite the fact that they never asked permission or told the company owner anything about what was happening until after the incident, and despite the fact that a man died as a result of their botched operation, the DEA still hasn’t legally done anything wrong. So they don’t have to pay.

A lawyer for Patty sounded as incredulous as everyone else after the ruling saying;

“It is not just that you can’t sue the federal government, but that federal law enforcement agencies under this ruling can use anybody’s property to do anything they want to further their law enforcement mission and not have to go get the permission from the owner of the property to do it.”

He went on to comment that “This type of ruling, in our judgment, ignores the Constitution, ignores the privacy rights of individuals who are just trying to make a living, an honest living… Even if the district judge was right [applying the law], the law needs to change because this completely tramples what we believe the Constitution protects.”

From here, Patty plans to appeal the ruling in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. His attorneys will have a total of 20 minutes to plead his case. If he loses there, his last possible option will be a hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court.


Source: fleetowner, truckersreport, washingtonpost, chron, houstonchronicle, techdirt

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64 comments. Add a comment.

  1. Archie silva says

    The DEA actually stole the truck from the owner, used it in a crime, had the driver killed, and truck damaged and they are not responsible?? Did I miss something here? Where is justice in America. ?

    • Dennis M. Dylewski says

      Its nice to be king. As I always say the Fed Court interprets the law to their own advantage then reinforces it with prior case study slanted in their opinion. Only way to win? Don’t ever go to Fed Court your Attorney is useless there. The Spanish Incuisition was more just.

  2. Samuel lee says

    Federal agencies were designed to do unconstitutional things to enforce unconstitutional law.!
    And they are endorsing dicrimination
    Theft and racketeering in the process.

  3. Mario Salas says

    What they did is not illegal as I understand they can lie in the persuit of criminal activities. However it doesn’t sound like they suspected this company owner of criminal activities, and used him in so doing perpetrated an act of fraud. I’m not sure he has a case, but there should be some sort of recourse. It does sound like there no grounds for their acts.

  4. Steve says

    A lot of talk in the article about the damages sustained to the truck ,and the money the owners want to collect for damages,which I fully understand.
    Nothing in the article about the driver who was used by the d.e.a with no regard for his life or safety ,for there gains ,to stand at a photo shoot with the loot and gloat about there take down .the d.e.a. operates lawless,and I’m sure the drivers family didn’t even receive an apology.

    • Infosaur says

      From how I read it, the driver was a federal informant before he was hired. In exchange for parole, he was to get access to a truck and I guess use his connections to get a load of pot. Somehow he died in the shootout.

  5. Steve says

    It figures I mean lets be honest here all the BS at weigh stations aren’t about safety over the road, it is just about making money and
    a bunch of idiots acting like an bunch of jerks with a badge.

  6. Anthony Bellard Sr. says

    Federal Agencie,local police surrounding him and only the driver is.killed? I smell a fish,and you don’t have to smell very hard to smell fish with Houston law enforcement. True communism at work when the Government screws up and takes no liability.

  7. David Dunne says

    And I thought Ireland only had “Gobeens” { Fools…Idiots…Imbeciles } in the Corridors of Power…I guess not…

  8. James says

    Here is what isn’t being said. The driver got busted hauling the dope, had to cooperate so he didn’t go to jail and this happens everyday. Unfortunately for him, he died and the owner is out a truck. If the owner didn’t know about the illegal drug activity, he should get paid. But if he did, he won’t get paid. Drug trafficking is a serious crime and is obviously very dangerous. Anyone who involves themselves in this type of activity will eventually get busted, killed or live in fear for the rest of their life. If you are out here working hard, doing what’s right, you will never be in that position. We all read these articles and want to feel bad for these guys. I don’t and never will.

    • Kevin says

      No James, it was said. The DEA erased this drivers long criminal record in order to get.him hired at this company. Once hired, the Fed set all of this up as a sting.

        • Ross says

          learn to read… “Now a judge has ruled that the DEA doesn’t have to pay him back because it doesn’t have a rule against doing what it did. Despite the fact that the DEA wiped away the driver’s substantial criminal record so that he would be hired, despite the fact that they used the driver and equipment for illegal activities, despite the fact that they never asked permission or told the company owner anything about what was happening until after the incident, and despite the fact that a man died as a result of their botched operation, the DEA still hasn’t legally done anything wrong. So they don’t have to pay.”

      • Sybil says

        Exactly. My question is why can’t the owner “charge” them with theft of the truck. That’s exactly what they did!

  9. Cherokee says

    That is the most ridiculous crap I’ve heard in many years, that is completely with out a shadow of doubt absurd that they are allowed to do that with any repercussions. Our government at work smdh.

  10. Jose says

    The war on drugs has had just too much collateral damage. No notable improvements and it seems like its just the same story. Honest hard working people bearing the burden of all this lunacy. The war on drugs is a failure.

  11. Floyd says

    So if a driver decides not to go along with a DEA sting will he get arrested for not turning over his livelihood? What rights do Americans have?..

    • Luis says

      The driver was working for the DEA. They cleaned his driving record so the legit company could hire him. The driver knew all along.

      • Brian ornowski says

        Who cares. It was the owners truck and name on the line and he did not even know about it. Driver was killed and that was his problem for being a rat. The owner needs to be paid and now protected over some junkie driver working with the dea. Wow

  12. kyonna says

    Wow, this is the country that so many Americans love…”the land of the free”…yea ok. If our forefathers who established the constitution were to see how this country is ran, they would roll over in their Graves triple time…what a shame

  13. Big Don says

    And once again, we have been shown just how far down the slope this country, (that I DO so dearly love,) has come. And the sad thing is, I’m afraid that there is no road back, no matter what happens.
    It is easy to take this as a slap in the face at trucking, but what it really is, is a slap in the face of all Americans, of “due process,” and of the freedoms that our military have fought and died for.

  14. Stephen Conaway says

    Like ive said before, whats fair for some is not fair for others. Once again our government and law enforcement can do whatever whenever and to whoever they want to. Rules dont apply to them and they wonder why they are getting shot.

    our judicial system is a joke and not the haha kind. When u go to jury duty they only puck the people they think will side with them.

  15. Glenn says

    wow, that’s hard to believe that can happen.

    That almost sounds like a movie script w/ gov’t corruption, judges and politicians.

    Oh right…that is the U.S. justice system.

    That’s sad that the company owner is left hung out to dry like that.

  16. Dan Thomas says

    The ironic thing is that Mexican marijuana shipments have fallen 70% due to legally produced “medical” marijuana in the USA.

    • Alan says

      The botched drug sting took place FIVE years ago. From what I remember, legal medical marijuana wasn’t made available yet.

  17. George says

    How about we forward this to all those really good,lol, presidential candidates and see what they…what BS answer we’ll get from them.

    • MrYowler says

      They’ll likely just fail to respond. That way they don’t have to be responsible for whatever they might have said.

  18. says

    It’s crazy how we,really treated as legit truckdrivers.Next thing you know they’ll make all drivers get a chip implanted with GPS so they can monitor you.2 or 3 dozen cops escorting him and he still got gunned down?Let me guess the gunmen got away.This nonsense about the got taking what they want needs to stop yesterday.Just like if you have 200 acres of land you inherited from your grandma Nelly,got decides they want it for a highway or training facility etc. It’s Gone.

  19. Donald W says

    Another favorite trick of the DEA is too get their stench to do something illegal too another individual not even involved in their operations like break and entry too steal or assault and when you report it your told there is nothing they can do.

  20. E rock says

    I’d really like to see how the judgement came down. The article is written without mention to the case. Anyone know where to find this case? I’d be curious to see how it was decided to the dea. How does the dea take your truck and use it without your knowledge? You don’t call the mechanic to see what’s going on with your equipment?

  21. J Carter says

    The government’s boots are getting bigger and bigger, and the imprints they’re leaving with them are getting deeper and deeper.

    Now in normal, everyday Americans’ faces too, apparently.

  22. Peggy Christman says

    Again, people, you fail to mention; all the talk and posting on this site will NEVER matter until Americans unite and disassemble the entities we have created. There is nothing more disheartening than to read so many posts full of defeat. I could swear there are more civilians in America than people whom exist in “We The People” created positions of so-called ‘Law Enforcement! When will people come together and put an end to the madness! My Irish father taught me “there’s power in numbers”!

    • Kajidono says

      The truck would just have been loaded with cocaine, meth, guns, slaves, or anything else the cartels could make money off of. Nothing will change as long as the border remains unguarded, no matter how many laws they pass.

  23. Adonis salazar says

    Yes, the DEA should be accountable for acts commited by agency.What kind of goverment are we running?? Plus who governs the DEA?? We need laws protecting the general public.Who fights for our rights except yourselves.God bless and good luck!! Keep up the fight you are in the right!! This comes from a fellow trucker!!

  24. MrNA says

    This ain”t no Trucking story. But here is my tuppence.

    The comment I can agree with is” if pot was legal”…I disagree with “if our border was guarded..”

    U.S. law allows certain drug and gang related confiscation of property regardless of knowledge.

    The war on drugs is a farce. Hiring more cops has never been the answer. Building a wall wont stop immigration or smuggling.

    The system is corrupt and broken. Thats how you get a story like this.

  25. Russell Graham says

    Yes the DEA was wrong. I think the driver was also wrong. This driver (not the owner) agreed to let the DEA use him and the truck, without the owners knowledge or permission. This driver did so for his own agenda. He was to get and did get his criminal records removed. I feel that the DEA acted inappropriately, but the final line is the drive gave consent. This law needs to be changed, and it needs to be clear that only the owner can give permission, not the driver. This was a bad idea from the beginning, and the DEA should have known better. We all know how our government agencies work. They go after the people that have something to gain, even if it means going over the rightful owners head with or without there consent. I feel sorry for the owner, he lost and had no idea his equipment was being used. The driver knew he was doing wrong, or he would have contacted the owner. Yes he died, but he knew the potential consequence before he agreed. Remember this if your asked to do something you don’t have the authority to give permission to do.

  26. Robert says

    This is what our country has become. The police are worse than the criminals. If one of the drug runners would have died, at least the cartel would have taken care of his family. But I’m our country the police do whatever they feel like and it’s only getting worse. What a bunch of thugs. I hope who ever was involved rots in hell. Your not police, your thugs with a badge. That’s the simple truth.

  27. MacGyver says

    This is a clear violation of the Constitution, not to mention a very clear violation of the law. Firstly, the driver being killed is an automatic wrongful death charge, and since the DEA never secured permission, they seized a driver to do their bidding, clearly a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Then there is the very clear violation of the Fifth Amendment, where they seized property for public use, i.e. a drug sting, and failed dismally to provide proper compensation. Any decent lawyer that knew the Constitution would have spotted this a long, long time ago.
    Just to be absolutely clear on the matter, in case some idiot judge thinks that he is going to slip the system by saying that this is/was a part of the war declared on drugs, he will open a whole new can of worms. If he decides to pass a judgement like that, there will be no more possibilities of charging anyone of whatever cartel or other drug handling organization with murder. If he claims this as an actual war, there will be no such thing as murder while neutralizing enemy combatants of either side.
    I don’t know what judge will take this, but I’ll give them fair warning to be DAMN careful not to set a precedent. Rule the wrong way on this, and there will be another Roe vs. Wade in favor of the cartels all over the land.

  28. Justin says

    Ridiculous! That’s our government for ya, really looking out for us. If they asked to use my truck id tell them to go pound sand

  29. djl says

    don’t go to work for LANDSTAR, because they love turning drivers into rats & using them for anything, for the sake of staying on the good side of GOV!
    Worked for them for 3 months until I figured out their brainwashing & deceptive tactics, in the name of homeland security.
    They will use you and then hang you out in the cold.
    had me running border duty free commodities from loredo to US, so they could catch illegal activities, then turned on me as the bad guy.
    Caution with any LANDSTAR truck/driver–informants!
    They even pay their drivers to tell on each other!!!!—-if you see them next to you in the truckstop, beware!—and if you get a chance, screw with their trailers/equipment—its the only way to retaliate….cut seals, break lights/pull pins/get them where it counts–$$$$–because they certainly are up to no good—just like the guy in this story got XYZX”d by trusting these guys!

  30. Craig Patty says

    Ok folks, Craig Patty here.

    No, Lawrence Chapa was not working for the Feds to get leniency on a prior conviction….he was doing it for the cash. Here is something not published but I will share ( Feds slapped a Protective Order on me so I have to be very careful what I speak to )….. I located a 2004 version of the DEA Field Manual online…in the section 6612. 31 ( Confidential Informants) the following is stated:

    I. Informants who are injured or killed while engaged or as a result of their cooperation with DEA are eligible for benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act.

    Shortly after Lawrence Chapa was killed, I did in fact get documents from the Dept of Labor, requesting information to satisfy the claim (submitted by his wife) for this very fund, spoken to in the DEA Manual.

    My drivers wife will receive monies for the death of her husband, while I cant get a penny ……( just 1 example) for the hiring of an environmental clean up team to clean the interior of the red Kenworth…..before I can even take it from Houston….that little task was over 4,000.00….AND the list goes on and on .

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