Armed DEA agents raided and arrested a Chicago woman over the purchase of a 16-ounce bottle of organic fertilizer. How could the federal agency garner a search warrant for a legal purchase? The Drug Enforcement Agency was handed the piece of paper which allowed them to enter Angela Kirking’s home at 5 am simply because her electric bills were higher than her neighbors.
A total of four armed DEA agents accompanied by nine local police officers, armed as well, raided the woman’s Chicago area home in the early morning hours three weeks after her purchase from the Midwest Hydrogranics store last September. Angela Kirking had no clue that local police officer Donn Kaminski had the Crest Hill business “staked out” when she bought the tiny bottle of organic fertilizer. According to case reports, Kirking was “targeted for investigation” because she exited the gardening store carrying a “green plastic bag containing unknown items.”
Unless toting your purchases home in anything but a clear plastic bag has become the law of the land, Kirking had the right to pack her legal purchase home in any color plastic or cloth earth-friendly shopping bag she liked.
The DEA raid target had this to say about the experience:
“They were in full attack mode, came at me guns raise, flashlights. Just like you see in the movies. I had to ask them for a warrant. I said, ‘Who are you,’ when they came in the bedroom. Somebody said, ‘DEA.’ They had a gun pointed at me when they said, ‘Are there any illegal substances in your house?”
The high electric bills induced warrant reportedly gave credence to law enforcement officer’s allegations that Kirking was running an illegal marijuana growing operation. Such a low threshold to obtain a warrant based on pure conjecture has shocked many who have commented on the now viral story. The electric bills at my house are surely a lot higher than my neighbors due to our hot tub and heat lamps for my three rescued tortoises and baby ducks. If I purchase organic fertilizer for my spring garden, the DEA might be able to obtain a no-knock warrant for me house – or yours if you have a hot tub and other electricity-eating items as well.
DEA agents and local police officers also used the high electric bill argument to conduct an “investigative garbage pull” from Kirking’s trash.
The law enforcement team reporting finding several green plant stems with that “smelled like marijuana.” Once the search of the house concluded, the raid team found less than a third of personal use marijuana. While cannabis prohibition still exists, the small fine violation did not constitute the massive government overreach and gun-in-face tactics used, according to Kirking’s supporters. The 16-ounce organizer fertilizer was purchased and used on the woman’s hibiscus plant.
Jeff Tomczak, Kirking’s attorney, said at least 10 other people were targeted by DEA agents after shopping at the same store. The Chicago area woman was ultimately charged with a misdemeanor for pot possession.