Liar, Liar

A top DEA informant makes cases--and $200,000 a year--while breaking a few laws himself.

Grant says Chambers was directed to solicit business in certain bars in Aurora and set up any takers. "How does this guy get started?" asks Grant. "Does he come up saying, 'Hey, I want to sell some jewelry,' or is it, 'I want to sell some drugs'? There's no record of that conversation, and most of the time, the defendant doesn't want to testify. So we're left with Chambers's version. Where are his witness statements? Why don't they have him write a report of what he did? They don't want us to have it, and they don't care what he did, as long as he gets people to show up with the money."

Grant says he was "dying" to put Chambers on the witness stand in the Coleman case, but he understands his client's decision to plead guilty. He describes Coleman as "a small-time guy with an insurance settlement" and no gang affiliation whatsoever.

"I think it's fraud for them to say they're going after black gangs," Grant adds. "They don't know who's coming to dinner until they show up. They don't know if they're drug dealers. They don't even know their names. They didn't know who my client was until he showed up at the motel on the day of the sting. Yet they identified him in their report as a major drug dealer."

DEA spokesman Hinds says that reverse undercover operations aren't all that common in Colorado, but Moya suggests they have a powerful allure to law enforcement agencies, which get to divvy up any assets seized. "There is an economic boon from an undercover sting, especially a reverse," he notes. "It's a lot easier to keep the money somebody brings to a deal than to have to go find money that might have been made illegally over the years."

Grant says he recently learned that Chambers was "docked" $5,000 in pay from the Aurora stings, supposedly because of his erratic testimony in other cases. But his expertise at reverse stings makes Chambers a valuable commodity to the DEA, Grant figures--meaning he will probably remain on the agency's payroll for years to come.

"The war on drugs is doing its job," says Grant. "It's keeping these guys employed, it earns Andrew Chambers some money, and it keeps the jails full and the DA busy. But is it taking any dope off the street? You tell me.

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