A world famous reggae star is currently on trial in Florida, accused of conspiracy to traffic cocaine. He faces a life sentence in the case which has thrust the controversy of criminal informants into the limelight. At issue, can someone who the government pays be a reliable informant or will they act in their own interests, trumping up the case to ensure their paychecks and favor keep coming?
U.S. Prosecutors contest the reggae star was a drug trafficker and user, that he made arrangements to purchase and distribute large amounts of cocaine in the Miami area. Although he admits to talking about the cocaine and even tasting it with his finger, he states that he was “all talk” and that dipping his finger in the drugs “was the worst mistake of his life.”
The case against him rests entirely on the work of one man, an informant for the federal government. According to this Associated Press story, the man has made over $3.3 million by working with various agencies within the government and over $50,000 alone for the case against the reggae star.
Prior to his work with the government, it has been suggested that the informant trafficked drugs himself, importing cocaine from Columbia into the United States. He served three years in prison before beginning his informant career.
His background within the drug trade paired with his salary from the feds has led many, including the famous defendant, to question his reliability as a witness. After all, why would the informant jeopardize his lavish lifestyle and even freedom by not giving the federal law enforcement agents exactly what they wanted to hear.
While this case involves federal charges and agencies like the FBI and DEA, it serves as a dramatic example of the questionable tactics of informants within the world of criminal investigations.
Most police agencies know they cannot build a case entirely off the work of an informant. In all honesty they are most likely to get tips and leads from people like this than they are to set them up with a salary and benefits. But, if you are facing criminal charges and a co defendant or prior acquaintance may testify against you, your defense lawyer should definitely be looking into their credibility.
At the state level, trafficking drugs can land you behind bars for years and even decades. Everything in the case against you should be questioned. How the evidence was collected, where the police’s information came from, and how the arrest was handled should be examined closely to ensure it was all done according to protocol.
If you’re facing charges contact our offices today. Even if you don’t know who put the police onto you, we can help.