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The Snitch Who Stole Christmas: How Trinidad's War on Drugs Attacked the Innocent

UPDATE: The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Trinidad police, alleging that two detectives fabricated and misrepresented evidence in the 40-person drug sting carried out in 2013. The organization brought the suit on behalf of two former suspects, probation officer Danika Gonzales and school employee Felicia Valdez, who lost their jobs after being implicated in the case.

Danika Gonzales was driving to work when she saw the police car in her rearview mirror, swooping down on her. She couldn't think of any moving violation she'd committed, but she quickly pulled over, figuring she was about to get a lecture for not wearing her seat belt.

Except for her college years, Gonzales had lived in Trinidad all of her life. She was 38 years old and had worked for the past seven years as a probation officer for the state courts, so she knew many of the members of the Trinidad Police Department -- including the woman who got out of the patrol car, Officer Lauren Riddle. Gonzales asked her what was going on. Riddle informed her that she was being arrested for selling heroin and methamphetamine.

"I thought she was joking," Gonzales recalls. "I kept telling her, 'You're kidding.' Finally, she got upset with me and said, 'I'm not kidding. Get out of the car.'" See also: Bloody Ludlow -- Long Buried in Myth and Neglect, the Story of Colorado's Deadly Coal War Is Worth Remembering

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast