A recent hot topic across the United States has been the use of in custody government snitches against in-custody defendants. In a famous murder case that occurred in Seal Beach, California involving Scott Dekraai, involved weeks of hearings resulting from a defense motion to dismiss in which law enforcement personnel and government snitches testified. The testimony resulted in Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals’ removal of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office from prosecuting the case. This was unprecedented! Since that time, there have been changes and many cases have been dismissed that were tainted by the unscrupulous tactics of law enforcement.
One of the government snitches involved in the Dekrai hearings was Oscar Moriel, who was under a snitch agreement to obtain information and statements from in-custody defendants relating to the Mexican Mafia. Moriel was a federal in custody snitch from June 2009 – May 2010. During this time, Orange County Jail deputies would purposely house other high-ranking inmates in the same Mod as Moriel, so Moriel could gain their trust and get information and statements from them to turn over to the Fed who were actively seeking information regarding Mexican Mafia activity inside the jail. Moriel testified that he became a federal snitch in order to get some type of deal related to the murder he was in custody for (where he remains as of the posting of this blog). He also testified he was never questioned about additional murders that he personally committed and was never charged with, yet hopes that being a snitch will allow him to get out of custody despite the multiple murders he has committed.
Even more disturbing were the detailed notes Moriel testified about that he wrote down AFTER he allegedly obtained statements from the in-custody targets. The amount of detail was so great, that it is hard to believe that he did not embellish or add facts to these alleged statements he obtained.
Whether a person agrees or disagrees with the use of in-custody snitches, it is, unfortunately, a reality that those in custody have to keep in mind when they confide in their new housing mates. Criminal defense attorneys always advise their clients to keep their mouths shut about their cases while in custody. Some take the advice and some don’t. Often times when inmates don’t keep their mouths shut, they are caught on recorded calls talking about their cases. These calls are then turned over to the defense attorney. It’s the responsibility of the criminal defense attorney to then assess and analyze all of the evidence, especially when an informant has been used.