A former federal drug agent testified Thursday that he and two other agents stole heroin, cocaine and cash from drug dealers and Drug Enforcement Administration evidence vaults over a five-year period.
John Jackson, testifying in the Los Angeles trial of another ex-DEA agent, Darnell Garcia, has pleaded guilty in the case.
Jackson, 41, testified that he, Garcia and the third agent, Wayne Countryman, began their conspiracy to steal drugs and money seized by the DEA about 1983, after Jackson had a “peculiar” encounter with the other two men at the DEA’s office in Los Angeles.
“Something inside me told me these fellows were up to something,” Jackson testified.
He said he asked Garcia and Countryman what they were doing and they replied that “they were involved in some activity. But they would not specify (what). They just laughed.”
Prosecutors allege that at the time of the encounter Garcia and Countryman were already committed to the theft scheme.
Jackson testified that he and Garcia made hundreds of thousands of dollars by stealing cocaine and heroin from drug dealers and the DEA evidence vault and turning the drugs over to dealers to sell on the streets of New York and Los Angeles.
Jackson, a 14-year veteran with the DEA, also testified that he and Garcia once stole $99,550 that they found in a box on the floor of the cashier’s office at the DEA office in Los Angeles. He said they also committed other cash thefts from the DEA and drug dealers.
Jackson faces a 15-year prison term. Countryman has also pleaded guilty.
After his indictment, Garcia, a black belt in karate, fled and was a fugitive for seven months before his arrest in the tiny European nation of Luxembourg in July, 1989. He was extradited to the United States.
The case marks one of the worst corruption scandals in the DEA’s history.
One agent’s alleged theft involved nearly 400 pounds of cocaine and was described by Assistant U.S. Atty. Joyce Karlin as “a theft that gave new meaning to the definition of corruption.”
Jackson testified that after stealing the cocaine in 1985 from a Pasadena condominium where it had been stashed by a drug trafficker, he received $775,000, his share of profits from the sale of more than half the drugs.
Jackson testified that he, Garcia and Countryman went to Switzerland to deposit the cash in Zurich bank accounts.