Although they have been instrumental in high-profile cases such as the Chelsea King murder and the deaths at the Spreckels mansion, agents with the state Department of Justice may be facing major layoffs.
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"[I'm] very distraught," said a special agent who was only identified as Nick. "I'm very upset."
Nick, who has been a special agent with the narcotics bureau for nine years, showed 10News numerous videos of local drug busts, including one at the Costco in Mission Valley in 2006, where he arrested several members of a drug cartel and took in about $1 million worth of cocaine.
"I meet with cartel members on a weekly, monthly, [and] sometimes daily basis," said Nick.
Nick said he assists in 60 to 70 arrests of cartel members every year and helps remove about $50 million worth of drugs off the streets. In less than two months, Nick will lose his job.
After lawmakers slashed the two-year Department of Justice budget by $71 million, 261 layoff warning notices went out to agents, including dozens of local agents.
The entire narcotics bureau and the major crimes team is in danger of being wiped out. They made significant contributions to the Chelsea King murder case and the Coronado mansion deaths case, including interviewing witnesses and conducting surveillance.
A Department of Justice tip led to the capture of Carlsbad man Dennis Gluck in Mexico. Gluck was recently sentenced after pleading guilty to killing his parents with a machete.
Eight years ago, Peter Shear arrested Scott Peterson at the Torrey Pines Golf Course.
"We assisted in surveillance for four months, which ultimately led to his arrest," said Shear.
When asked if the cuts are a sacrifice that the department has to endure, Mike Loyd, who is the president of the Association of Special Agents for the Department of Justice, answered, "No."
Loyd said the cuts appear to be focused on the agents and no other law enforcement.
"I'm told the governor was obstinate these agents be allocated cuts," said Loyd.
Some have speculated the cuts are politically motivated because the agents union supported Meg Whitman during the 2010 election. The governor's office denies that claim.
Nick said the impact of those layoffs and loss of expertise will be felt.
"The end result is cartels moving in and establishing footholds on the U.S. side," said Nick.
The governor's office referred 10News to the finance office, which said the layoffs are regrettable but a possible reality after the governor's budget plans did not succeed.
The layoffs are set to go into effect in late December.
"I'm hoping the governor's office gives the attorney general the authority to avoid the cuts," said Loyd. "That's what we're hoping for."
Law enforcement sources confirmed that the state Department of Justice's expertise, equipment and manpower is critical and layoffs could squeeze local resources.
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