The owner of a small two-truck North Texas trucking company has demanded compensation from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, saying its use of one of his drivers as an undercover agent ultimately led to the driver’s death and damage to his truck.
According to the Houston Chronicle, truck driver Lawrence Chapa was shot dead in Harris County, TX, in front of more than 12 law enforcement officers who were taken by surprise when hijackers tried to steal the $90,000 truck which was being used to transport marijuana across the border as part of a DEA sting operation.
Truck company owner Craig Patty said he didn’t know driver Chapa was a DEA informant until he got a call saying the trucker had been shot eight times in the truck’s cab. The truck was supposedly in a repair shop in Houston, but GPS information from the truck reveals an unauthorized trek to the Rio Grande Valley in the days before Chapa was killed. He took a 1,000-mi. round trip detour from the route he was supposed to travel.
Patty hired Chapa five weeks before the shooting and now wonders how many of his trips included DEA work.
The DEA has not confirmed Chapa worked for the agency, but the Houston Chronicle reported that comments prosecutors made in court confirm the agency had been paying Chapa as an undercover agent.
In documents shared with the Chronicle, Patty is demanding that the DEA pay $133,532 in repairs and lost wages and $1.3 million more for the damage to himself and his family, who fear retaliation by a drug cartel over the bungled narcotics sting.
Patty said after the incident his company was on the brink of collapse because the truck could not be used for 100 days. Patty said he drew from his retirement fund to pay for the repairs.
“I was not part of this,” Patty said. “I had absolutely no knowledge of any of it until after it happened.”