ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man who says federal agents used him to broker drugs deals in exchange for crack cocaine is getting threatening phone calls from people who are mistaking him for an informant, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Erlinda Ocampo Johnson, attorney for Aaron Romero, said her client is being wrong accused by some of working for the DEA. But she said the 38-year-old was unknowingly targeted during an undercover investigation because he was a struggling addict and did not know he was helping agents break up a Las Vegas, New Mexico drug operation.
“(The threatening calls) are another result of the DEA’s actions,” Johnson said. “He now fears for his life.”
Romero filed a federal lawsuit this week accusing the DEA of reigniting a previous crack addiction after agents directed informants to get Romero to participate in drug deals. The lawsuit says Romero was given a portion of crack cocaine for help with deals in an undercover investigation into a case known as “Operation Smack City.”
The lawsuit says the arrangement was in violation of DEA policy since the agency did not get prior approval from prosecutors.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque declined to comment on the case.
Johnson said some now believe Romero was a “snitch” and believes his life is in danger. She said he never worked for the DEA.
Romero was later charged with distribution of drugs in connection with the investigation, but federal prosecutors dropped the charges in January.
The lawsuit seeks $8.5 million in damages for the loss of “love, familial relationships, and companionship” related to Romero’s ongoing crack addiction.