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Lawsuit claiming DEA paid N.M. man in crack tossed

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Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 11:13 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, – A lawsuit filed by a New Mexico man who says federal agents wrongfully supplied him with crack cocaine, reigniting his addiction to the drug, was dismissed Wednesday by a federal judge

In a 16-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez said the law doesn’t allow for damages when a person’s own wrongful conduct is the cause of injury.

Aaron Romero said in court papers that he was unknowingly targeted during an undercover investigation because he was a struggling addict and did not know he was helping agents break up a Las Vegas, New Mexico, drug operation.

The lawsuit says Romero was given a portion of crack cocaine for help with deals in an undercover investigation into a case known as “Operation Smack City.” That arrangement was in violation of DEA policy because the agency did not get prior approval from prosecutors, the lawsuit said.

Romero, 39, sued the Drug Enforcement Administration and its agents in July 2014 seeking $8.5 million in damages for the loss of “love, familial relationships, and companionship” related to Romero’s ongoing crack addiction.

Romero’s attorney, Erlinda Ocampo Johnson, told the Associated Press that she “absolutely” plans to appeal the ruling.

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