Originally published on May 7, 2015, at NationofChange.org
According to the Department of Justice, six DEA agents were either reprimanded or received short suspensions for leaving a UC San Diego engineering student jailed for five days without food or water. Although the student almost died of dehydration, near-kidney failure, and a perforated lung from a suicide attempt, no DEA agents were fired or indicted on criminal charges.
Engineering student Daniel Chong was smoking marijuana at a friend’s apartment in San Diego early on the morning of April 21, 2012, when DEA agents raided the residence. Chong and the other detainees were transported to a DEA field office in Kearny Mesa and interrogated. After the agents determined that Chong had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time, they decided to release Chong without charges and even offered to give him a ride home.
Instead of releasing Chong, the DEA agents claimed that they simply forgot about him. Left handcuffed in a windowless five-by-ten-foot holding cell, Chong endured the next five days without any food, water, or human contact. Dying of dehydration, Chong was forced to drink his own urine in order to survive.
“I had to do what I had to do to survive…I hallucinated by the third day,” Chong recalled. “I was completely insane.”