Fake-drug witness says police fooled by wrong question on gypsum
The Dallas Morning News
A confidential informant who planted fake drugs on dozens of innocent people testified Thursday that he was able to continue with his scheme because authorities asked him the wrong key question during a lie-detector test.
In the second day of testimony in the federal criminal trial of former Dallas narcotics Detective Mark Delapaz, Enrique Alonso told jurors that police officials asked him to take the polygraph exam after cocaine seized in a large bust he helped with turned out to be bogus. The examiner asked Alonso during the October 2001 test whether he knew that the seized substance was Sheetrock, a wallboard product.
Alonso said he answered "no" truthfully because he had used crushed billiard chalk to fool police. At the time, authorities thought the fake substances were ground gypsum from wallboard. The material was gypsum, but the three informants who fabricated the fake drugs said it was obtained from pool chalk.
Alonso spent much of his time on the witness stand under cross-examination as defense attorneys sought to damage his credibility in an effort to bolster their argument that he is a clever liar who carefully orchestrated the drug busts and fooled Delapaz, a 13-year department veteran. At one point, defense attorney John Helms asked another informant, Roberto Gonzalez Rodriguez, whether Alonso was manipulative. Gonzalez said yes.
Alonso's testimony about the polygraph exam also cast blame away from Delapaz, who, according to his defense team, was told by his bosses to continue using the informant because the test results showed he was trustworthy. Under direct questioning by federal prosecutors, Alonso and Gonzalez agreed that their plan was clever and fooled the police in many ways. But the two men said that details in Delapaz's reports never happened and were not part of their plan.
Delapaz, who turns 36 Friday, is accused of lying in arrest warrant affidavits and to a prosecutor and an FBI agent about witnessing details of the drug transactions that prosecutors say did not occur. He is charged with violating the civil rights of four people by making false statements that created probable cause for judges to issue arrest warrants. Delapaz faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Gonzalez described the September 2001 arrest of Yvonne Gwyn at her Fort Worth Avenue car repair and detailing shop. He said he was Ms. Gwyn's friend before he and the other informants decided to set her up for arrest.
The informants purchased a Honda Civic and hid 29 kilos of fake cocaine behind the back seat before dropping it off for repairs at Ms. Gwyn's shop. He testified that he went with Ms. Gwyn to help her move a washer and dryer that morning before her arrest. Gonzalez said he then called Alonso, who told Delapaz that a drug transaction had taken place and that more drugs were inside the car. Although Delapaz's report on the bust said that he witnessed Ms. Gwyn remove a bag from the car before the arrest, Gonzalez said that never happened and that there were no such bags inside the car.
In the June 2001 drug arrest of Roberto Amador, Gonzalez said he saw another informant, Jose Ruiz, place an ice chest full of fake drugs in Ruiz's car before driving it to a car repair shop where Amador worked. Delapaz wrote in a report that he watched Amador place the cooler into Ruiz's sport utility vehicle, but Gonzalez said that could not have happened because the cooler was in the vehicle the entire time.
Three informants have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate civil rights and are cooperating with prosecutors. They face up to 10 years in prison and will be sentenced after the trial concludes. Testimony in Delapaz's trial resumes Friday.