CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on a federal judge's call for phony stash-house stings to end (all times local):
A federal judge in Chicago says law enforcement must stop conducting phony stash-house stings, calling them "lucrative traps" predominantly targeting minorities that should "be regulated to the dark corridors of the past."
Chief U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo said during a Monday hearing that the operations in which suspects are talked into stealing non-existent drugs from fake stash houses "must been seen through the lens of our country's sad history of racism."
But Castillo stopped short of a ruling that the stings — as applied to several criminal cases he is overseeing — meet the legal definition of being racially biased. As a result, he refused to dismiss the charges against the mainly blacks suspects.
A dismissal of charges would have put pressure on the government to end the stings or to overhaul how they're conducted.
A federal judge in Chicago is slated to issue a first-in-the-nation ruling on whether law enforcement stings where suspects are talked into robbing non-existent drugs from non-existent stash houses are racially biased.
Monday's ruling could determine whether agencies nationwide curtail their reliance on such stings.
The stings are overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They typically involve agents posing as cartel couriers.
Defense attorneys contend the stings are discriminatory because they overwhelmingly target blacks and Latinos.
Suspects can even be charged with trying to distribute the fictitious drugs, subjecting them to stiff mandatory prison sentences.
The Chicago federal court's chief judge, Ruben Castillo, is issuing the ruling.