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Friday, June 25, 2010

Federal witness killed after lawyer allegedly leaks his name

The cycle of failure continues in Baltimore: last year an FBI drug informant was killed, this year a woman who authorities believe witnessed his murder is being charged with perjury and faces 30 years in prison for refusing to testify about it: Baltimore Sun story here. Kareem Guest was killed after a lawyer allegedly violated an agreement to keep Guest's cooperation confidential. It's worth noting that local media initially dismissed Guest's murder as a routine street killing. As the Sun writes:
Guest, 31, was shot repeatedly in the head and chest on Sept. 20, 2009. In one of those familiar bloody Baltimore weekends, he was one of 13 people shot over two days — one more name on a burgeoning list noting the violence but saying virtually nothing of the circumstances. City police and the news media initially dismissed Guest as a routine victim, a man on probation for drugs, leaving the impression that he was killed, like many others, in some sort of petty dispute over heroin. The FBI knew better.
In cities like Baltimore, it is impossible to know how much street violence is associated with informants--crimes against them as well as crimes committed by them. That's why I've argued that law enforcement agencies should start keeping track of and make public the extent to which urban crime is directly connected to snitching policies and practices.