Lubbock Sheriff severing ties with DEA: A KCBD/Sandstorm Scholar Investigation

Published: Feb. 21, 2014 at 2:21 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2014 at 3:20 AM CST
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Lubbock Sheriff Kelly Rowe
Lubbock Sheriff Kelly Rowe


It's a partnership meant to keep drugs and the people who deal them off the streets. But now, the Lubbock County Sheriff says he doesn't want his office working with these federal agents.

Our investigation has uncovered a letter written by Sheriff Kelly Rowe, terminating the county's relationship with the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The issue stems from a massive drug bust which was executed on February 4th, 2013. The month-long investigation took law enforcement from Lubbock down to Odessa and up to Borger.

"All in all, we ended up seizing two homes, obviously all of the drugs, the cash...ten weapons that were seized," Rowe said.

Rowe tells us his deputies led the charge and were assisted by DPS, the DEA and other local agencies.

"Everyone can work together and bring it to a successful and safe conclusion," Rowe said.

However, almost immediately, information was leaked to the media, which Rowe says put his deputies in danger, and halted any future progress in the investigation.

"Obviously, we want to show the successes and what's going on to the community, but on the flip side, we have to be very cautious on what information is being released," Rowe said.

Rowe says the race to release information was led by the DEA, which is why he decided to write a letter to their Dallas field office.

In the letter, Rowe states he will be directing his staff to "immediately discontinue all future cooperative partnership with the DEA."

"At this point, I can't see us continuing a relationship under several of those circumstances," Rowe said.

The letter states that any release of information was to be coordinated with the Sheriff's Office, but that most of the information released was "erroneous."

"Once everything started heading out, that in essence brought this investigation and anywhere it would have taken, to a close," Rowe said.

Rowe's letter goes on to say: "What I cannot or will never tolerate is deception or untruthfulness."

Bottom line, Rowe says trust was compromised here.

"You have to have that with everybody working together. It's the cornerstone of all levels, I expect it of my people, every way they conduct their business," Rowe said.

But although this partnership may be on the rocks, Rowe doesn't believe it will affect their ability to keep our streets safe.

"We can operate self-sufficiently, while still maintaining our relationship with the rest of them," Rowe said.

The letter ends with Rowe stating his agency will assist the DEA if any of their agents are in danger. Rowe hopes this termination isn't permanent, but that it will take time to repair the relationship.

Late this afternoon, KCBD received word from the DEA that they had spoken to the sheriff and that a meeting was in the works.

They told KCBD, "We're going to work together to resolve any differences we may have."

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