K.C. Alfred/Zuma Press
Daniel Chong (file)
Anyone who "celebrates" the 420 holiday will most likely tell you the last thing they want is to be arrested. Anyone who actually is arrested might tell you the last thing they want is to be forgotten in a cell for five days. That's exactly what happened to 23-year-old UCSD student Daniel Chong last month after he was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents on April 21, a day after what considered to be the "pot smoker's holiday."
Chong says he went to hang out and smoke marijuana with friends on the night of April 20. The next day, DEA agents raided the home and found 18,000 ecstasy pills and various weapons, promptly arresting Chong and eight other suspects. After they were processed at DEA headquarters, seven of the nine suspects were taken to a county prison and one other was released. That left Chong alone in a 5-by-10-foot cell. Where he remained. For five days.
The UCSD student told the local NBC affiliate that he was left for those five days without food or water and allegedly had to drink his own urine to survive. According to his attorney, Gene Ireldale, when Chong was finally discovered he was close to kidney failure and spent an additional five days in the hospital — three of them in an intensive care unit. The acting Special Agent in charge for the DEA issued a statement saying, "I extend my deepest apologies [to] the young man and want to express that this event is not indicative of the high standards that I hold my employees to."
As for his experience in the holding cell (hands still handcuffed behind him), Chong said he had kicked the door several times in order to get someone's attention but no one answered. Thinking he was going insane, he said, "I didn't care if I died."
DEA officials are investigating the incident and Senator Barbara Boxer has called on the Justice Department to look into what happened. In the meantime, Chong has filed a $20 million claim against the Drug Enforcement Administration.