SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A former snitch claims FBI agents and the San Francisco Police Department abandoned him and prosecuted him after he risked his life for them for 5 years, infiltrating the violent Mara-Salvatrucha street gang. In his federal complaint, the John Roe plaintiff says he is in jail awaiting trial for work he did as an "embedded paid human resource" for law enforcement.
Roe says he's been in jail since 2008, awaiting trial on racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder and firearms chargers related to his work as an "embedded paid human resource" for an Operation Community Shield investigation of the Mara-Salvatrucha aka MS-13.
The gang was formed during and after the mass deportations of Salvadorans from the United States, during that country's long civil war. Ironically, Salvadoran government officials have said the gang has brought violence to El Salvador, through deportees who learned their violent ways on the streets of Los Angeles and other U.S. cities.
Roe sued the City and County of San Francisco and 29 law enforcement officials. He claims they violated his civil rights when they "abandon[ed] Mr. Roe inside the dangerous, murderous gang that suspected him of infiltration."
Roe says the FBI recruited him in 2005, when he was 20, promising him a law enforcement career and protection for his family.
He says that while infiltrating MS-13, he "suffered beatings, arrests and threats of murder from the gang" to provide the defendants with intelligence.
"Mr. Roe regularly reported to his FBI handlers, debriefed SFPD, FBI and/or ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents on more than 72 occasions, providing valuable intelligence on the inner working of the gang and its members, identifying hundreds of gang members, wearing body wires to record meetings under extremely dangerous conditions on at least 14 different occasions, and making scores of consensually monitored calls to gang members in efforts to purchase weapons as well as to implicate gang members in the ongoing activity," the complaint states.
"During his work for the defendants, Mr. Roe was responsible for numerous arrests and successful prosecutions. His intelligence prevented countless acts of violence, shootings and quite possibly murders. The information provided by Mr. Roe was directly responsible for the seizure of a number of guns from the streets of San Francisco. His information led to the arrest of at least one murder suspect and the seizure of the murder weapon."
Roe claims that MS-13 members want him dead.
"According to FBI reports, MS-13 gang members suspected Roe was a human source as early as 2005," the complaint states. "The defendants knew that MS-13 members had targeted Roe and his family for murder, a threat that continues through the present day, nevertheless these individuals acted in concert to embed Mr. Roe in this dangerous gang, promising him safety and a future in law enforcement."
Roe claims that after his initial FBI handler was sent to Iraq, his new handler abandoned him to the gang without informing him.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Roe was not told that he was being abandoned, and did not have the means to extricate himself from inside the gang, as he was embedded at the behest of his handlers," according to the complaint. "Due to defendants' mishandling of him, Mr. Roe was under constant threat of being murdered, with his murder being ordered by gang members on numerous occasions. Mr. Roe and his family remain under serious and deadly threat to this day."
Roe says he was arrested in 2008 on charges "directly resulting from his authorized activities performed within his undercover work as a paid embedded human source."
Roe says he worked for numerous police agencies during his 5 years under cover, including members of the FBI, ICE, the ICE Street Terrorism Initiative, Operation Community Shield, the California Department of Justice's Criminal Intelligence Bureau, the San Francisco Police Department and its Gang Task Force Unit.
He seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations. He is represented by Geri Green.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.