A drug addict who says he was “targeted” by DEA agents because they knew about his past addiction has filed an $8.5 million lawsuit against the agency, claiming that agents used crack cocaine as payment for his help and got him hooked again, reports AP. The legal papers filed Monday name five agents who reportedly lured Aaron Romero, 38, into helping them in their undercover probe (nicknamed “Operation Smack City”) in New Mexico. Romero's suit alleges that these drug payments were meant to exploit his addiction and pile up drug-related charges against him—charges that were eventually dropped.
Romero had been a 17-year crack addict before stopping in 2011 because he was too broke to afford it, reports the Albuquerque Journal. That's when a DEA informant approached him and roped him into using again, agreeing to give him a cut of the drugs he purchased using the informant’s money, according to the lawsuit. The suit says the crack payments were against the law because the DEA agents who allegedly knew about them didn’t get approval from federal prosecutors—and that they tried to cover up the drug payments by fudging records. Romero’s attorney tells AP that he’s now drug-free. (Read more DEA stories.)