Federal agents responsible for detaining a California college student for five days without food or water back in 2012 will not receive any significant punishment, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing the Justice Department.
Daniel Chong was held by Drug Enforcement Agency agents for five days following a raid on a friend’s house. He was not fed or provided water for the duration of his detention, according to the Justice Department.
Chong, who was 23 at the time of his jailing, was never charged with a crime and has since been awarded a multimillion-dollar settlement from the US government.
The former UC San Diego engineering student said he drank his own urine for hydration and suffered from hallucinations during his hellish imprisonment.
The three agents received only reprimands or short suspensions despite leaving him for days in a windowless room with his hands cuffed behind his back, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Chong’s suffering earned him a $US4.1 million settlement from the US government, but the worst punishment received by any of the agents involved was an unpaid five-day suspension, according to the Times.
After being arrested with six other individuals, the college student admitted to agents that he was a pot smoker, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. He was soon determined to not be part of a drug ring and assured he would be released.
“What happened to Mr. Chong is unacceptable,” said a letter from the Justice Department to members of Congress obtained by the Times. “The DEA’s failure to impose significant discipline on these employees further demonstrates the need for a systemic review of DEA’s disciplinary process.”
Revelations of the lack of oversight in Chong’s case come only one month after the Justice Department released an inspector general report alleging that DEA agents attended sex parties in Colombia.
“[Agents] appear to have fraternized with cartel members, accepted lavish gifts, and paid for prostitutes with no concern for the negative repercussions or security vulnerabilities they created,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement to the site.
DEA administrator Michele Leonhart defended the lack of severe punishments but is expected to resign amid multiple agency scandals.
When asked for futher comment, a DEA spokesperson reached by Business Insider said he would have to call back. This post will be updated when we receive that call.
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