Daniel Chong, a San Diego college student, was at a friend’s house on April 21 when he was detained as one of nine suspects in a drug raid. The raid uncovered tens of thousands of ecstasy pills, drugs and weapons at the home. Chong says he was told by the DEA that they knew he was an innocent bystander, and that he would shortly be released. One DEA agent even offered to drive him home, he said. However, instead of being released, he was put in to a holding cell — and then seemingly forgotten for five days.
During his ordeal, he screamed and begged to be released. He could hear people outside his cell and the sound of the cell door next to him being opened and closed, but nobody appeared to hear him. Chong says he had to “recycle” his own urine to survive. He bit into his glasses to get a sharp object to scratch “Sorry Mom” into his arm. Pieces of the glass were also found in his throat. While trapped, he also ingested a white powder substance left in his cell, now confirmed to be methamphetamine. His condition deteriorated rapidly, and Chong says he was “completely incoherent” by the end of his ordeal. The DEA finally opened the door and discovered him on April 25 and immediately called paramedics. Chong was in kidney failure and spent several days in the hospital before being released.
The DEA confirmed in a statement that a suspect was left in a cell “by accident” for a period of days, and also that methamphetamine was inadvertently present in the same cell. They have, however, no explanation for anything — why Chong appears to have been forgotten for five days, why methamphetamine was in the cell, why anything. The DEA says it is investigating the situation.
Chong, who missed several midterms during his ordeal, says he will file a claim against the federal court system on Wednesday.
Photo credit: Decade_null on Flickr.