Federal prosecutors investigating drug corruption at a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration office are looking into the 1984 disappearance of nearly $100,000 from a safe for a possible connection, according to a published report Wednesday.
The cash disappeared from either a money vault or a cashier's safe in July 1984, but the disappearance hasn't been linked to the three former DEA agents who are the focus of the federal investigation, the Los Angeles Times said Wednesday.The story, citing unidentified sources, said the theft of $99,950 came just three months before the suspected theft of 21/2 pounds of Asian heroin from the drug agency's evidence vault. Investigators disclosed last week that more than 5 pounds of heroin worth an estimated $7.5 million was missing from the agency's evidence vault.
Three ex-DEA agents, John Jackson, Darnell Garcia and Wayne Countryman, were indicted Dec. 7 on tax charges in connection with an alleged conspiracy to launder $608,000 through Swiss banks.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joyce Karlin has said additional charges of cocaine trafficking may be filed early next year.
Federal prosecutors are considering filing charges against Jackson and possibly Garcia in connection with the suspected heroin thefts, the Times reported.
"The circumstances are being looked at now in connection with the ongoing investigation of these agents," said John Zienter, head of the Los Angeles office since 1987.
Donald Hugh, a retired DEA agent and assistant evidence custodian who first disclosed the money's disappearance, blamed lax procedures in the handling of both drugs and money. The poor standards were in place much of the decade, he said.
"The evidence vault was like a meeting place for agents," Hugh said. "There used to be three and four guys in there at a time, milling around. It was hard to keep track of them. They didn't change things until fairly recently."
Jackson, 39, of Claremont is being held in federal custody without bail. Countryman, 45, of Walnut is free on $120,000 bail and Garcia, 42, is a fugitive.