How to beat the DEA - do too much for them to store
Sometimes the incompetence of our government amazes even the most cynical among us. Such is the case with this story out of Iowa:
A fugitive doctor charged in the nation’s largest prosecution of Internet pharmacies is getting off in part because there’s just too much evidence: more than 400,000 documents and two terabytes of electronic data that federal authorities say is expensive to maintain.
Armando Angulo was indicted in 2007 in a multimillion dollar scheme that involved selling prescription drugs to patients who were never examined or even interviewed by a physician. A federal judge in Iowa dismissed the charge last week at the request of prosecutors, who want to throw out the many records collected over their nine-year investigation to free up space.
The first reaction many of us who are tech-savvy will have is - really? While 2 terabytes is a substantial amount of data, storage is also insanely cheap these days. Anyone can walk into a Best Buy and buy a 2 TB external disk for around $100. Now, sure, government computers storing sensitive data need more security that your music collection, but still. We’re talking something on the order of thousands of dollars here, which the government spends in about five nanoseconds.
The second reaction, once one actually considers this is, how did these documents possibly take that much space? A quick calculation tells me that this makes the average document size about 5.4 GB. The average document takes up space in the megabytes, not the gigabytes. Beyond that, is it really conceivable that 2 GB makes up an astonishing 5% of total capacity? How could the storage capacity of the DEA really be only 40 TB?
The whole story just doesn’t make sense to me. If these facts are true, then the easiest way to get the DEA off your case is to simply do so much that your evidence takes up too much hard drive space. If not, then the government lied to a judge to drop the case. In either case, the DEA doesn’t look good at all. They either have the most incompetent IT staff in history or are lying in court.
In any case, a crooked doctor is free and the government is once again shown to be run by idiots. I think the least we could do is include a nice gift card to Best Buy in the next DEA budget passed by Congress.