A criminal justice reporter for Buzzfeed News, Albert Samaha, reported that Lafayette County Metro Narcotics put college-aged youth at risk of dire situations when they work as informants for the department.
This past April, he with a fellow news reporter, Alex Campbell, wrote a lengthy news story explaining how the Lafayette County Metro Narcotics were using collegiate informants.
Recently, Samaha has followed up on the news story with an angle: the perspective of Chris Bland, a man who shot an eighteen-year-old in Oxford on August 19, 2006. Bland believed the young man was a “snitch” for the Lafayette County Metro Narcotics.
Here is a passage from the news article explaining this murder:
Bland claims he killed Chris Poole because he believed Poole was working as a confidential informant for Lafayette County Metro Narcotics, a small, four-person unit based in Oxford. As an April BuzzFeed News investigation detailed, Metro Narcotics relies heavily on the use of college-age confidential informants. Each year, the squad recruits an average of 30 CIs, many of them first-time offenders arrested for possessing a few grams of weed. To get these young men and women to turn informant — an extremely dangerous task — agents often coerce them by threatening them with hard time or the shame and lifelong burden of a drug record.
All the hustlers in Oxford know about Metro Narcotics, Bland said, and they keep their eyes out for the unit’s latest batch of snitches. Bland suspected Metro Narcotics agents were after him — and that they were using Poole, his 18-year-old neighbor, to try to bust him.
Was Poole an informant? “I believe in my heart that that’s not true,” said Lafayette County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Mills, who added that Metro Narcotics told him it has no record of Poole being an informant. Bland has no doubt: “I killed him because he was snitching.”
What is certain is that in Oxford, the use of CIs is so prevalent that it has created an atmosphere of paranoia. “Everybody’s suspecting everybody,” said Latoya Brown, Poole’s sister. “Everybody knows that they recruit these kids. That’s what they do in Oxford. That’s why people here are always saying everybody around here’s snitching.”
Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.