Increasing Use of Stings by Federal Law Enforcers Bring Entrapment Claims


The robbery would be simple, five men were told: The crew would burst into a Baltimore hotel room and grab $400,000 worth of cocaine stashed there by an out-of-town supplier. They should bring guns. As the men headed to the hotel, Baltimore police working with the Drug Enforcement Administration swooped in to arrest them, says the Baltimore Sun. The entire story had been made up by law enforcement. The suspects in the supposed December robbery were charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs, robbery, and gun violations.

Defense attorneys say the U.S. is luring petty criminals into imaginary crimes with promises of big payoffs. As more cases come to court, prosecutors are being forced to defend the distinction between aggressive policing and entrapment. DEA and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have used reverse stings since the 1990s, with increasing sophistication over time. The DEA has run eight operations in Maryland since 2007. The question of whether a defendant would have committed a crime without law enforcement intervention is crucial in weighing entrapment claims. in Baltimore, federal prosecutor James Wallner said law enforcement merely opened a door to people “predisposed to commit the robbery.”

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