DEA forgot about man they put in holding cell for 5 days without food or water

[Video Link] The DEA promises "a full review" for forgetting that they had locked a man in a dark 5 x 5 x 10 holding cell for five days without food or water. The man survived by drinking his own urine.

Chong said he was at a friend's house in University City celebrating 4/20, a day many marijuana users set aside to smoke, when agents came inside and raided the residence. Chong was then taken to the DEA office in Kearny Mesa. He said agents questioned him, and then told him he could go home. One agent even offered him a ride, Chong said. No criminal charges were filed against him. But Chong did not go home that night. Instead, he was placed in a cell for five days without any human contact and was not given food or drink. In his desperation, he said he was forced to drink his own urine.

(Via Cynical-C)


  1. Poor guy. Locked up for days on end, after nothing more than a marijuana bust, and he’s called Chong! God that’s not going to help his case.

    1. And what would be the purpose of deliberately doing such a thing?
      I call Hanlon’s Razor:  “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

      1. This. There’s a giant difference between stupidity/gross negligence and accusing somebody of trying to kill somebody else. Not even funny, no matter who you’re talking about.

      2. Blithely copied from Wikipedia:

        Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.
        —Sir Bernard Ingham[6]

        1. Sir Bernard Ingham, the spin-doctor for Margaret Thatcher, who delibertately manipulted, distorted and covered-up a multitude of things in his time.

          Including giving the above quote! “Honestly, we’re all just innocent, slightly incompetent old buffers! Nothing for you to be worried about!”

          Yeah, right.

          Let’s kill the false dichotomy. It’s possible for them to be both incompetent and malicious.

    2. yes we have these good cops protecting us..that why i celabrate every time i hear one is killed or dieing from injurys.they bare a bunch of jerk that are over paid

        1. Your linked article says “How long can you survive by drinking pee?An extra day or two, at best.” Well… that extra day or two at best potentially saved that guys life. Five days without any water (or anything else to drink) would mean being pretty close to dead if not dead.

          1. Yeah, if it buys me an extra day I’m drinking the pee. Sorry, but that’s called a will to live.

      1. Even the US Army survival manual says not to due to the salts in it.  You’ll just lose even more water.

    1.  Thank you so much for posting this. If I’m ever in the situation, I will be able to make a quick decision.  So why did Bear Gryllis drink his own pea from a rattlesnake corpse on Man vs wild?  What a crock Bear. Why did you make me think it was a good idea to drink pee.

      1. So why did Bear Gryllis drink his own pea from a rattlesnake corpse on Man vs wild?

        Because he is a massive dickhead.

      2. Wait, you think Bear is for real? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
        Next time you are lost in the desert just .. cross the highway and book a room in a cosy motel.

    2. I doesn’t help _that_ much but it still helps. You can drink it just fine the first time around (if you don’t wait too long, depending on how hydrated you are, i.e. not if you haven’t had anything to drink for a day) without any adverse effects; after that it gets more and more concentrated obviously, which is not exactly healthy.

      So, note to potential stranded urine drinkers: it can help you stay alive for an extra day or two. Definitely better than nothing.

      1. At least it is sterile which is probably more than you can say for some nasty stagnant water you may find.

          1. Well, urine is sterile (assuming no UTI or kidney infection) until it picks up bacteria from the urethra. So… just pee first a small amount to “clear the pipes”.

      2. This is true. 

         In a dessert  environment, Bear Grills also recommends soaking your shirt in urine and draping over your head and shoulders for extra evaporative cooling. A good rough guide is how clear your urine is too – if it’s clear or nearly clear, more OK to drink, the more yellow, better used for other purposes such as evaporative cooling.

        Drinking his own urine in the holding cell likely helped him, at least psychologically – survival is also also at least half a mind-game.

        1. The downside is that rescuers might run away when they realize that you smell like old fermented urine.

    3. Bear Grills totally lied us! Now i’ll never be able to trust a man with an animal and a cooking method for a name ever again.

  2. Well, he’s going to get a few million dollars in compensation.  Seems a fair trade for me.

      1.  I’d spend 5 days in a 5×10 with no food or water, drinking my own piss for a few mill.

        Not saying this isn’t deplorable (it is), but the real problem is that it’ll be the taxpayer’s footing the bill, not the people responsible. I have the same issue every time a small group of people from a large agency does something terrible like this. The government gets sued and settles, but it’s never the people actually responsible that have to pay.

        1.  That’s why large institutions carry lawsuit insurance numbnuts. They’re not going to let this guy into their vault and haul out bags of money.

          1.  The federal government is self-insured: payments come out of the agency’s (= your) pocket, not an insurance company.

        2. Perhaps I would as well. However, I think psychologically the difference between knowing you will be released after five days and believing you truly will be left to die is substantial. 

        3. I’d spend 5 days in a 5×10 with no food or water, drinking my own piss for a few mill.

          After lawyer fees and whatnot, that few million will be less than the cost of dialysis as his half-dead kidneys fail in a few decades.

        4.  I would totally also do that, how about we set it up. I get told 24 hours before so I can get fully hydrated, and then I start drinking my pee right off the bat so I don’t wait too long….

        5. Yes, but you’d be consenting to this and would know there’s an end in sight. This person didn’t know whether he’d live or die – he tried to carve a goodbye on his arm. 

          I could perhaps do five days in such an environment if I knew there would be an end – I wouldn’t panic, I’d meditate, conserve energy and etcetera. 

          If I was locked in the hole without a defined end like this guy, I’d waste energy and water lost by sweat trying to bust my way out, panicking and raging during the first day or so. 

          Also, recall that this guy was in a pitch-black cell which adds the element of sensory-deprivation. Not knowing whether you’re going to live or die is why he needs to be compensated – and why some heads need to roll ( although we all know they will not.)

          This was not some sort of extreme-game-show contest. 

          edit – I agree, those responsible should be fined or whatever, but this almost never happens.

    1.  Yeah- how did he go from “detained” at the apartment to solitary? Are we missing a chunk of the story here?

    2.  It’s pretty standard, I think.  I got picked up for possession of marijuana and spent the night in isolation in a holding cell in a RI state police station.  As for the light, there’s probably a switch.  I guess remembering to turn the lights off was more important than remembering to let the guy go.

    1.  That’s what I wondered. The “accidents” were piling up…

      Conspiracies Everywhere!

  3. It obviously wasn’t deliberate. Which makes it even more bizarre and heinous. It looks like it was depraved incompetence. If it were a state lock-up or a private company, he’d get a quick, large settlement for sure. But I’m concerned, because it’s federal, they can weasel out of it easier. You hear people getting settlements from state and local municipalities, federal not so much.

    1. They allegedly left meth in a holding cell, if it wasn’t deliberate they are so incompetent they need to be sterilized for the sake of humanity.

    2. I’d say the bag of meth left in his cell makes the question of intentionality very moot.

  4. I have to ask: was there no toilet with water in it he could have drunk?

    1. There was no toilet. The first article that I read about this made it sound like it was an interview room, which is basically a cube with a table and two chairs.

    2. “Yoo [his lawyer] described Chong’s holding cell as a 5-by-10-foot cubicle with no water or toilet. He started out with his wrists handcuffed behind his back but managed to wriggle his arms back to the front of his body during his captivity.”

  5. As is often the case with these press narratives, a lot of things don’t add up.  Some clear-cut examples:

    She said her client was cleared of any wrongdoing and agents told him they would put him in a holding cell for just a minute before driving him home.

    Why a holding cell, if he was cleared of any wrongdoing?  Isn’t there a waiting room, or he could even wait outside in the sidewalk?

    He started out with his wrists handcuffed behind his back but managed to wriggle his arms back to the front of his body.

    If he was cleared of any wrongdoing, WHAT THE FUCK was he STILL doing IN FUCKING HANDCUFFS???

    Agents detained nine people including Chong during the raid and seized some 18,000 ecstasy pills, etcetera blah blah blah.

    OK, I take it back, it’s not “a lot of things don’t add up”, it’s actually none of this adds up. But it all sounds infernally dysfunctional in every possible way.

    1. those numbers seem exaggerated 

      18,000 Ecstasy pills are worth A LOT of money from erowid (every recreational drug enthusiasts favorite website)The price of MDMA varies wildly depending on where it’s purchased and in what quantity. Prices are much higher in the United States and Canada than they are in Europe. In the U.S., a single tablet purchased at a commercial event can cost as much as $50 though more commonly $10-$25. Purchased in higher quantities MDMA generally sells for $80-$200 per gram (about $8-25 per dose), with wholesale prices as low as $40 per gram. In Europe, in 2008 and 2009, prices were much lower at around 30-80 Euro per gram and 2-8 Euro per tablet. assuming 8 dollars per tab that’s  144000 dollars worth of Ecstasy at the low end… assuming a good mark up they’re making a lot of money moving that much productArresting everyone who is in the house at the time of raid seems kinda sloppy, they should have been watch the place long enough to know this kid just wants to get high (one of the reports say he admitted that was why he was there too)

      They have to know who’s buying the product and selling it, he should have been released at the location of the raid. 

      i agree this whole thing seems strange. 

    2. If you have been cleared of wrongdoing and are going to be released in various institutional settings you will still be restrained until you are totally released.

      1. If the guy was in the clear and a cop had already offered a ride home, just cut the damn cuffs and let the guy wait outside.  It’s not rocket science!  That policy is thoroughly screwed up.

        1. yeah because they give a flying fuck about people….  Around here when you go to jail for simple unpaid traffic tickets, you can be bailed out but you wait an additional 3 hours minimum to be released.  So someone has to show up to pay your bail and wait in the disgusting waiting room for 3-8 hours for your release.  All this on traffic tickets that you havent even been convicted of.

          If it was about making sense we would all be better off, but its about making cents.

    3. “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

      “He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.”

      “He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:”

      “For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:”

      “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:”

  6. What really is weird, is that you’d have to assume he was shouting and banging on the door or something to try to get attention after being in there long enough (and I assume that he did as he’s probably not a suicidally stupid idiot). With all that noise, they didn’t go to check up on the source of it? Are their lockups and interrogation rooms so far away from anyone?

    1.  Shouting and banging is habitually ignored in most detention centers. You might have to keep it up for a very long time before anybody bothered to check on it, more likely they’d just get used to the noise. After at most a couple of days with no water, you wouldn’t be able to shout.

  7. Where are those in charge going to find new jobs after this? Who would hire them? It’s going to be tough on them.

    They have been dismissed, haven’t they?


      Yeah right, the boys got a good laugh over it at headquarters.  No punishment will be handed out.  Had he died (from ingesting the bag of meth they left in his cell or from dehydration), they would have just said it was his own fault and file something stating he downed the meth to escape “JUSTICE”.

      Side note, MANY ECSTASY PILLS ARE ACTUALLY METH or some other BS concoction.  I still think that MDMA should be given by a trained Dr. for relationship therapy.  I unfortunately purchased some ex pills for me and my girlfriend, after about a year of not using them they were found in her backpack and she was charged with METH! 

      1. Side note, MANY ECSTASY PILLS ARE ACTUALLY METH or some other BS concoction.

        Sometimes even heroin if the person selling it is desperate enough.  Don’t buy it from anyone who isn’t taking their own shit.  Even then be careful.

        1. I respect your intention and I apologize for what may seem like nit-picking… but there has never been a recorded example of heroin-laced Ecstasy. 

          As a former mod of a harm-reduction board, I can confirm that what is sold as Ecstasy these days IS indeed dreadful, contaminated bunk most of the time if one is buying pills (mostly due to the drug war and the persecution of legitimate chemists). But heroin is not used to “fill-out” E presses. 

          Please check erowid, bluelight, and most importantly, Pill Reports for the crap that’s going around. The most common adulterants in what’s sold these days as “Ecstasy” are pipes (dreadful and dangerous), some meth, and certain research chems (such as some of the cheaper DOx compounds), as well as typical fillers such as caffeine.Heroin is expensive, and dealers who sell dope rarely sell Ecstasy. The opposite obtains for dudes who sell E. The markets don’t have a large overlap. Further, it would make no sense to “adulterate” a cheap-ass E press with a relatively expensive, desired drug (that could also cause overdose in users with no opiate tolerance.)

          I didn’t blather on like that to personally attack you. On the contrary, I respect your desire to inform people of how horribly degraded Ecstasy has become over the last 10-15 years. But I am a proponent of harm reduction and truth, and the “heroin in Ecstasy presses” myth rears its head too often.

          It’s a shame that clean, well-manufactured E has largely disappeared from the common market. Molly tends to be cleaner than pressed pills. For anyone looking to enjoy clean E, please do research and buy a relatively inexpensive test kit so you know what you’re ingesting.

  8. Just you wait… the prisons are all outsourced now.  The policing and short term lockup will be soon as well………….  and this kind of thing will be the new normal.

      1. Dude, corporations will be doing the hiring, policing, and arresting.  It’s one and the same fear. 

  9. I have a nit to pick.

    “4/20, a day many marijuana users set aside to smoke”
    …Really, boingers?  Are we so indignant that we can muster no snark about this statement?  Have you seriously known folks who smoke up just because it’s 4.20?  Is there ever the reluctance of ‘Oh, I wouldn’t but since it’s April 20th, I guess I ought to?’

    I shouldn’t have to utter the disclaimer that this in no way justifies what happened to the fellow, but to be clear – it doesn’t.  But really.  4.20.  Laaaaaame.

    1. Some cities have massive outdoor pot parties/rallies and somehow the date (um generally) holds the police at bay, so yes, some of us do “set aside” 4/20 to get dangerously baked and then go for bike rides to the burrito shops.

    2.  Vancouver Canada here.  Yes many thousands of us do celebrate 4/20 at 4:20 every year.

    3. Um, yeah. I’m not a big weed smoker these days. Nevertheless, I was invited to no fewer than five 4/20 parties this year, ranging in size from small gatherings of 12 to an outdoor blunt-an’-bong-palooza at Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park.
      4/20 parties have been common around these here parts since I was at UCB (and that was longer ago than I’m going to admit), and the holiday fell on a Friday this year.In short, yes, 4/20 is indeed a thing. On a different note, I applaud our young protagonist for making sure he wears his UCSD hoodie whenever photographed. He’s an engineering student, but he obviously has a natural talent for PR and giving the message a friendly massage.I do like how this new generation is shaping up. I am proud to call some of them close friends, and they are a feisty and knowledgeable bunch.

  10. Massive abuse of police power and a gross violation of a citizens rights – Boingers talk about drinking urine…

  11. Smoke weed, instant solitary confinement without food and water. Yeah that sounds fair. America is so over. If he sues, the money will come from tax payers, there is no real accountability in this system.

  12. Aside from our lack of a single payer system for health care and the massive dump of our tax dollars into the corrupt military/prison/security-industrial complex…  the drug war is one of the dumbest, most cruel and wasteful enterprises in America.  I have zero respect for people who participate in it.

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