ALBUQUERQUE (CN) - U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents protected an informant who was molesting a child and who murdered the child's father when the dad found out about it, the victim's family claims in a federal lawsuit.
Edward Quintana aka Li'l Sweat was recruited as an informant for a DEA task force called Operation Smack City, which centered in Las Vegas, N.M. according to the 273-page lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday.
When he was recruited, Quintana already had a criminal history of "domestic violence, battery upon a household member, child abuse, false imprisonment, battery upon a household member with a firearm, attempted murder, kidnapping, conspiracy, felon in possession of a firearm (3 firearms), trafficking a controlled substance, receiving or transferring a stolen firearm, and threats of battery and arson," according to the complaint.
Despite this history, the DEA established Quintana as a confidential informant and supplied him with a cell phone for staying in contact, the plaintiffs say.
During the 18 months that Quintana worked for the DEA, he does not appear to have delivered any evidence to the task force, the complaint states.
Quintana did, however, engage in criminal sexual conduct with a 5-year-old child, the family claims: "On September 1, 2012 through February 20, 2013, DEA informant Quintana began to commit criminal sexual penetration, criminal sexual contact, child abuse, and kidnapping against Plaintiff minor JGE (Age 5) (refer to State of New Mexico Indictment Number D0202CR2013002012 of Edward Quintana: Exhibit 3) on multiple occasions at the residence of decedent Jason Estrada." (Parentheses in complaint.)
All of this happened to the child while Quintana was under the protection of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the family says.
On April 3, 2012, after the child's father, Jason Estrada, confronted Quintana about having abused his son, Quintana went to the family's home, where he bludgeoned Jason Estrada in the head and shot him four times: in the testicle, a leg, the abdomen and upper arm, killing the man in the presence of his son, according to the complaint.
On April 4, 2013, the DEA "deactivated" Quintana as an informant, according to the complaint.
On April 5, 2013, Bernalillo County Sheriff's officers located Quintana by tracking cellular tower data for the phone provided to him by the DEA, and they arrested him.
The family claims that if DEA agents had never engaged Quintana as an informant in exchange for reduced sentences on criminal charges, homicide victim Jason Estrada would still be alive and the child referred to in the lawsuit as J.G.E. would still be a healthy, happy little boy.
The family seeks up to $50 million in damages for wrongful death, personal injury and professional negligence.
They are represented by Erlinda Johnson in Albuquerque.