In May 2005, a confidential informant working for the Drug Enforcement Administration and a narcotics taskforce in New Mexico set up a buy of methamphetamine by calling the mother of Alfredo Torres. Torres’s mother said she would call “Freddy” to set up the deal. The informant met with the seller, completed the buy, and turned the drugs over to the DEA. The informant was wearing a wire during the buy, and though the agents could not identify the seller’s voice, they saw him through the windshield of a moving car. At trial, both the informant (whom the prosecution claimed had been a credible informant in the past, and had stopped using drugs) and the agents testified against Torres. In August 2006, a jury convicted Torres of the distribution of more than five grams of methamphetamine, and he was sentenced to 70 months in prison.
After trial, it was discovered that the prosecution failed to tell the defense that the informant had misidentified Torres twice after the buy, that she had worked for the DEA before and broken her agreement with them, and that she had continued drug related criminal activity while working as an informant. In June 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned Torres’s conviction because the prosecution withheld this evidence, and granted him a new trial; in October of that year, the prosecution dismissed the charges.
- Stephanie Denzel