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DEA Lack of Data Storage Results In Dismissed Drug Case 242

Nerval's Lobster writes "Dr. Armando Angulo was indicted in 2007 on charges of illegally selling prescription drugs. He fled the country in 2004, with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Marshals Service eventually finding him in Panama. As the case developed (and Panama resisted calls to extradite Angulo back to the United States), the DEA apparently amassed so much electronic data that maintaining it is now a hardship; consequently, the government wants to drop the whole case. 'These materials include two terabytes of electronic data (which consume approximately 5 percent of DEA's world-wide electronic storage capacity),' Stephanie M. Rose, the U.S. attorney for northern Iowa, wrote in the government's July motion to dismiss the indictment. 'Continued storage of these materials is difficult and expensive.' In addition, information associated with the case had managed to fill 'several hundred boxes' of paper documents, along with dozens of computers and servers. As pointed out by Ars Technica, if two terabytes of data storage represents 5 percent of the DEA's global capacity, then the agency has only 40 terabytes worth of storage overall. That seems quite small for a law enforcement agency tasked with coordinating and pursuing any number of drug investigations at any given time."
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DEA Lack of Data Storage Results In Dismissed Drug Case

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @01:59PM (#41057237)

    The war on drugs is a disaster. Decriminalize all drugs, since that is the only thing that leads to a decrease in drug use and an increase in treatment.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Monday August 20, 2012 @01:59PM (#41057243)

    Am I allowed to pup up and point out the obvious that the two Terabytes needed to store this information can be purchased from Seagate via Amazon for $139 bucks []?

    DEA: Buy two drives. One for yourselves, one for discovery. You can take it out of the taxes I paid last year. Pay me back when you collect reasonable discovery charges [].

    The trifling cost aside, this seems to suggest that the DEA is aware that their case is fatally weak, and relies on sifting mountains of data that no jury on earth is capable of understanding in the hope of finding some faint pattern in the data that suggests intent. If there were obvious infractions, it would be easy to prove by pointing out 20 or 30 of them and call it a day. If it is so subtle that you need two terabytes to prove it, you probably don't have much of a case anyway.

    Even if the Goods Doctor (see what I did there?) was guilty as hell, and the DEA is worried that purging some evidence and concentrating on specific acts might give grounds for appeal due to hiding evidence, the simple precaution of copying it to cheap off line storage should be sufficient.

    Something is rotten about this whole story, and I suspect its a huge smoke screen for some other operation, or perhaps proceeding with the case would put methods or undercover operatives at risk, or require personnel that are current not available. Or maybe they know the Doctor is on his death bed or will soon contract some fatal disease, at which will make the whole point moot. Or maybe the doctor is singing like a canary these days.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @02:10PM (#41057397)

    I noticed the summary conveniently forgets to mention that there are also several hundred boxes of paper evidence. The electronic evidence is only one piece they mentioned: claiming, as the summary does, that they are dropping it due to lack of electronic data storage is somewhat misleading. And of course if Panama isn't going to extradite him anyways, which seems extremely likely, keeping the case open is a waste of resources no matter how you look at it.

    And of course it isn't like these are 2 terabytes of Blu-ray movies: it's probably mostly text and image files, and that is a lot of text documents to keep track of and make sure are backed up on a regular basis, with a full chain of custody to ensure they aren't being tampered with and whatnot. Sure, 40 TB sounds like a small amount of data, but then again if you introduce 4 or 5 backups with tampering resistance... it suddenly starts looking like quite a bit.

  • by Jeng ( 926980 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @02:17PM (#41057495)

    The fewer people sent to prison for drug crimes the better.

  • by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @02:41PM (#41057757)

    "A single disk drive is not someplace to store data you want to keep."

    Yes it is, of course it is. IT claims to be an engineering and engineering is about solving problems, rationally, and under current constrains.

    That means that when the current option is dismissing a case and trash all data , a meagre 150US$ SATA disk is a perfectly suitable alternative.

  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @02:49PM (#41057847)
    This whole slashdot story is a sham, and so is your speculation. If you just follow a couple links you can get to the motion itself. What it says is, they know exactly where the guy is, efforts to get Panama to extradite him have failed for years, and since the case is dead they want to close out the files.

    Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with these silly stories. They're always bogus, and they always lead to pages and pages of wild conspiracy theories and political rants. You're making fools of yourselves.

  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @02:55PM (#41057943)

    Because if the police were to stop him with deadly or non-deadly force, the risk of me getting sued or going to jail is close to nil.

    If I were to do it, the risk is considerably higher.

  • by h5inz ( 1284916 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:29PM (#41058403)
    Meth (speed) is a prescription drug for example: Methamphetamine is FDA approved for the treatment of ADHD and exogenous obesity. It is dispensed in the USA under the trademark name Desoxyn. []
  • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:46PM (#41061897)

    Homeless addicts are the exception not the rule and it's foolish to even suggest they are the stadnard (though it's a fun talking point the DEA uses).

    There are estimates ranging from 8% to 10% of the population uses illicit drugs regularly. An even larger percentage in excess of 50% has tried an illicit drug in their lifetime. The vast majority of those people are perfectly stable users with employment and families.

    Alcohol is a far worse drug than nearly every other illicit drug. Cigarettes are far more addictive than nearly every other illicit drug. Yet both are legal, the first because a ban was tried and it caused consumption to sky rocket and violence to explode, the second is legal due to economic dependence on not only the production but the sale.

    Just like Alcohol prohibition legalization will remove the blackmarket, improve safety, reduce violence/crime and provide tax revenue to the government to support the negative side effects.

    The war on drugs has created a police and prison apparatus that costs the tax payers close to 12 billion a year. What has the war on drugs done to personal liberty? Well for one the government now has incentive to go after individual users because they can then seize their assets. In fact, the system incentives going after users and leaving the dealers alone. We have more than a million people in jail that never committed a violent act and are in jail simply for possession of drugs. What the war on drugs has cost this country is simply not worth what it protects (virtually nothing, except for all the people making money off the police state it's created).

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.