The Dakota Entrapment Tapes

The new documentary hammers home the senselessness of the war on drugs.


On May 1, 2014, 20-year-old Andrew Sadek disappeared from the campus of the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, where he was about to graduate after training as an electrician. Two months later, police found his body in the Red River near Breckenridge, Minnesota, dead from a gunshot wound to the head and weighed down by a backpack full of rocks.

The Dakota Entrapment Tapes, a Sundance Now documentary, recounts how Sadek's bewildered parents and friends tried to find out what had happened to the mild-mannered student, who had good grades and no criminal record. They discovered that a federally funded anti-drug task force had tricked Sadek into parting with some pot, which he sold to two confidential informants for a total of $80. The police then pressured him into continuing the cycle of entrapment, which apparently led to his death.

Given the amount of marijuana involved, the Sadek family's lawyer says, probation was the likely outcome. But Richland County Deputy Sheriff Jason Weber told Sadek he faced up to 40 years in prison unless he became an informant. Weber warned him not to tell anyone what had happened.

Sadek made three deals for Weber and had one to go. He vanished the same day Weber had set as a deadline.

Whether Sadek's death was a suicide or (more likely) a homicide, it vividly illustrates the senselessness of the war on drugs. "Are you kidding me?" his mother says. "All of this for $80 worth of pot."