In an interview with The Huffington Post, former LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Juarez, who served with the department from 1976 to 1991 and was later convicted along with several other deputies in 1992 during a federal investigation of sheriff officers stealing seized drug money, described a drug war culture that frequently put law enforcement officers into morally questionable situations that were difficult to navigate.
“We all started getting weapons,” said Juarez, who served five years in prison for skimming drug-bust money. “We were hitting houses coming up with Uzis, AK-47s, and we’re walking in with a six-shooter and a shotgun. So guys started saying, ‘I’m going to get me a semi-automatic and the crooks are paying for it.’ So that’s how it started.”
But Juarez, who served in the LA County Sheriff’s narcotics division for nearly a decade, explained that what started as a way for some officers to pay for extra weapons and informants to aid in investigations quickly devolved into greed. Since asset forfeiture laws at the time allowed the county to keep all cash seized during a drug bust, Juarez says tactics changed.
“It got to where we were more tax collectors than we were dope cops,” Juarez recalled. “Everything seized was coming right back to the county. We turned into the same kind of crooks we’d been following around … moving evidence around to make sure the asshole goes to jail; backing up other deputies regardless of what it was. Everyone, to use a drug dealer’s term, everyone was taking a taste.”
And now we find out exactly how much the CIA had to do with destroying his reputation and hounding him to his death.