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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Detroit Police Chief breaks up joint DEA task force over informant-turned-alleged killer

U.S. Marshals Service

Detroit Police Chief James Craig says he’s ending a joint task force with the Drug Enforcement Administration over its refusal to admit it used an alleged spree killer as an informant.

Kenyel Brown was a repeat felon who was released from federal supervision in October, despite violating his probation multiple times. That apparently happened at the behest of a federal law enforcement agency.

Brown was then signed up as an informant for a Detroit Police/DEA task force. He had formerly been an informant for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

That ended in early February, when Brown was identified as a suspect in six homicides. Brown died on Friday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound as police chased him down.

Craig said much of what actually happened in this whole saga remains obscure, including why Brown was freed back in October, and which agency pushed for that.

“But here’s what we know: this man was a federal informant,” said Craig. He cited the DEA’s reluctance to publicly admit that as his reason for breaking up the 20-year-old joint task force.

“If you are our partner, and you can’t embrace the tenet of integrity, accountability, and transparency, I can’t work with you in that manner,” Craig said. “If I can’t trust you as a brother law enforcement agency to be transparent and take responsibility, how can we continue a working relationship? It just doesn’t work.”

Craig said that in a meeting with DEA officials on Monday, they pointed the finger at DPD for bringing in Brown as an informant. Craig acknowledged that a DPD officer registered Brown and paid him, but said all task force officers are deputized as federal agents and this was done with the knowledge of DEA supervisors.

A DEA spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

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