A FEW WEEKS ago the Drug Squad (YKAN) arranged for one of its informers to fly to Amsterdam and buy 12kg of hashish and helped him pass drugs through customs at Larnaca airport. The informer, allegedly, had been asked to make the purchase by an underworld character, who was serving a prison sentence, and encouraged to do so by YKAN, which presumably wanted to catch the trafficking gang.
However the operation went horribly wrong and when the informer dropped off the drugs at the Aradippou industrial area, the recipient managed to drive away despite the attempt of the police to stop him. It was a monumental case of incompetence by YKAN officers, who, inadvertently, had helped a trafficker import 12kg of hashish into Cyprus through legal channels and delivered them to him at place of his choosing.
A disciplinary investigation is currently under way and according to information published in the press, the entire operation was handled by the YKAN chief, who had failed to inform the Attorney-general, the Chief of Police or the head of Customs about it. This was allegedly a violation of the procedure stipulated by the law, but all three of the above said they had no knowledge of the operation. The chief will decide whether there has been an abuse of power on the completion of the investigation.
But questions have been raised about the usefulness of sting operations. In the past, a man was acquitted by court when it was established that he had been paid by undercover policemen to sell them a large quantity of cannabis, the judge ruling that the police had effectively encouraged a man to commit a crime by offering him money. Perhaps the latest case is not exactly the same, as the police had not funded the deal. They had, however, encouraged it and made it possible. While this may be considered a legitimate police tactic, it is far from certain that a judge would see it this way.
What nobody has given any thought to is the way YKAN put at risk the life of their informer. Is he now under 24-hour police protection as he is more than likely to be a target of the drug baron he had tried to set up? Given the incompetence displayed by YKAN it is possible that the informer, despite blowing his cover, has been offered no protection. After all he is of no use to YKAN any longer. We hope this is not the case, because YKAN could end up with blood on its hand as well. Sting operations, involving informers do not seem a smart idea in countries as small as Cyprus.
September 28, 2010
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