College student Daniel Chong was forgotten in a cell by DEA agents after being arrested in San Diego on April 21st at the scene of a narcotics bust. Chong remained handcuffed in the cell for four and a half days before he was discovered by agents, an act that Chong’s lawyers are now calling “torture.”
During the narcotics bust, nine suspects were brought in by DEA agents, but the rest of the suspects were either brought to jail or released on the same day. Agents told Chong that they would bring him home later that day, but they never returned to his 5 foot by 10 foot cell.
Chong was kept in confinement, sometimes in complete darkness, with no water and no food. The student was forced to drink his own urine to survive and almost went into kidney failure. While left in the holding cell, Chong said that he could hear agents talking and called out to them, but no one came to his cell. He spent 5 days in the hospital after being discovered by agents who then called an ambulance.
Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA office in San Diego William R. Sherman said of the incident, “I am deeply troubled by the incident that occurred here last week. I extend my deepest apologies to the young man and want to express that this event is not indicative of the high standards that I hold my employees to. I have personally ordered an extensive review of our policies and procedures.”
Chong is now suing the federal government for $20 million. The claim against the US government says, “The deprivation of food and water for four and a half days while the person is handcuffed the entire time constitutes torture under both international and domestic law.”
In response to the DEA agents’ actions, San Diego NORML will be holding a protest on Monday, May 7th at 4:20 PM at the San Diego DEA office. The address of the office is 4560 Viewridge Avenue, San Diego, CA 92123. Go to the peaceful protest to show your condemnation of the DEA’s actions. NORML invites you to bring a sign, banner, megaphone, or anything else that will help to publicize the message.