Man Accidentally Left In DEA Holding Cell For 5 Days

Man -- Who Attends UC San Diego -- Among 9 Detained During Drug Raid On April 21

A man was discovered in a holding cell at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration office in Kearny Mesa last Wednesday after he was mistakenly left there for five days.

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DEA spokeswoman Amy Roderick said Monday that the man was among nine who were detained by federal agents during a drug raid at a University City home on April 21.

During the raid, agents seized about 18,000 Ecstasy pills, marijuana, prescription medications and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Also seized were a Russian M91/30 rifle, a Glock 17 handgun, a Beretta 92FS handgun and thousands of rounds of ammunition, according to Roderick.

Roderick said that all of the detainees were brought back to the DEA office in Kearny Mesa to be fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed. While being processed, they were moved around the five cells at the DEA facility.

"Each suspect was interviewed in separate interview rooms, and frequently moved around between rooms and cells," said Roderick. "All suspects were searched incident to arrest, but none were strip or body cavity searched."

Roderick said seven were brought to county detention after processing, one was released and that "the individual in question was accidentally left in one of the cells."

It wasn't clear if he had any access to food or water.

10News also learned the 24-year-old – a student at UC San Diego – may have been handcuffed the entire time.

When agents found the individual in question last Wednesday, Roderick said the agents "were told by the individual that he had used a white powdery substance that he found in the cell. The agents who found the young man in question called EMS [emergency medical services], and field tested the substance, which tested positive for methamphetamine."

Roderick added, "Agents told EMS that the individual had stated that he had used this substance. The substance was tested so EMS would have that information for treatment."

Paramedics took the man to a hospital, where he was treated and released.

"A lot of questions need to be raised, perhaps place much more accountability measures in how these detentions are taking place," said Pedro Rios, the director of the American Friend Services Committee. The group monitors law enforcement and documents human rights abuses.

Rios added, "Irrespective of what crimes he may have committed, he still should be treated with respect and dignity."

The DEA plans to "thoroughly review both the events and detention procedures" on April 21 and after, said Roderick.

Attorney Gretchen Von Helms said suspects are supposed to appear before a judge within 48 hours after being arrested. Federal officers are immune from lawsuits as long as they are doing their job.

"It sounds like several people didn't perform those safety checks and they missed somebody," she told 10News. "He doesn't deserve to die because of it. You don't get the death penalty for using Ecstasy on your friend's couch and that's what could have happened."

Roderick said the man admitted that he was at the home "to get high with his friends."

According to 10News' media partner U-T San Diego, man was reported missing by his roommate last Friday. UCSD campus police told U-T San Diego the man notified officers on Saturday that he was OK. The missing persons report was canceled.

It is unclear if the man will face any charges related to the raid.

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