As we have said on a number of occasions, many arrests are the result of police sting operations. Stings probably are used most commonly in the case of drug crimes. An example occurred last month with the alleged sale of fentanyl and heroin. The sting in this case was fairly typical, and did not involve complicated tactics, wiretaps or sophisticated technology. It was simply a set-up using a police informant.
The police used the informant to set up a meeting to purchase fentanyl and heroin. During that meeting, there was an agreement allegedly reached for the three men ultimately arrested to purchase drugs from the informant. Police say that one of the men who was later arrested entered a west Phoenix location to meet the informant with a box containing 15,000 fentanyl pills and a kilo (that’s about 2.2 pounds) of heroin. The drugs were allegedly worth over $150,000. The three men allegedly providing the drugs were charged with conspiracy and drug trafficking.
When we say that this sting was simple, what we mean is that it only involved some alleged conversations among the men (one of whom was a police informant), delivery of the drugs, and the subsequent arrests. What the report fails to mention is the fact that typically, these informants, whom the police like to call “confidential informants,” are people with drug records, and, more often than not, pending charges against them. The agreement by the informant to try to drum up more drug arrests for the cops is usually coupled with a promise of some sort of leniency – dismissed or reduced charges, lower sentences, etc. – provided to the informant in exchange for participation in a successful bust.
In some of these sting cases, the testimony of the police informant is an important part of the prosecution’s case. When that happens, the defense usually challenges that testimony by pointing out the to jury that the informant had a significant self-serving reason to lie, and that issue may cast doubt on the veracity of his testimony and on the guilt of the defendants.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004