DEA: Chargers' Kiel shipped prescription drug to Texas
SAN DIEGO -- Chargers starting strong safety Terrence Kiel will miss Sunday's game at Baltimore following his arrest at team headquarters on felony drug charges.
Drug Enforcement Administration officials said Wednesday that Kiel admitted to shipping at least two parcels of prescription cough syrup to Texas. While Kiel did not tell the DEA his motive, the agency in Texas has found widespread abuse of codeine-based cough syrup mixed with soft drinks or drugs and referred to as "lean," said John S. Fernandes, the special agent in charge of the San Diego office.
A pint bottle of "lean" can cost between $200 and $325 on the street, he said.
Kiel grew up in Lufkin, about 120 miles north of Houston, and played at Texas A&M.
It turns out that the San Diego Chargers lost two safeties on Tuesday.
While fielding questions Wednesday about strong safety Terrence Kiel's arrest on five felony drug counts, coach Marty Schottenheimer let on that backup free safety Bhawoh Jue would miss this weekend's game because he had arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday.
It was the first word from the team about the surgery.
Asked at a news conference whether Clinton Hart or Jue would replace Kiel for Sunday's game at Baltimore, Schottenheimer said: "I think I made the statement yesterday that Bhawoh Jue wasn't going to be available because of injury. So at that point the expectation is that Clinton Hart will play."
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Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said Kiel would be paid even though he will miss Sunday's game at Baltimore.
"He's been informed to stay home and take care of personal business," Smith said, adding that Kiel is due back with the team on Monday.
"I'm really not interested at this point in commenting on anything about the matter," coach Marty Schottenheimer said.
Clinton Hart, who will start in Kiel's spot, said the defensive backs met Wednesday morning.
"We have to regroup and make that fist a little bit tighter. Kiel's still our boy and we're supporting him 100 percent," Hart said. "We're going to go out there and win this game with him on our backs."
Kiel was arrested on two counts of transporting a controlled substance and three counts of possession for sale of a controlled substance. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.
The DEA is investigating where Kiel got the cough syrup, who else may be involved and the intent.
Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said quart bottles full of what appears to be prescription cough syrup were found at Kiel's house. Both officials said Kiel admitted to financial difficulties when interviewed by agents.
Kiel is making $500,000 this year, his fourth with the Chargers.
The player was jailed Tuesday and released on bail.
Kiel's agent, Vann McElroy, said he couldn't comment on specifics of the case.
"Terrence is a good kid. We just have to wait and see," McElroy said.
Fernandes said the two shipments Kiel admitted to sending to Texas each contained prescription cough syrup that had been repackaged in pint-sized water bottles.
On Tuesday, Kiel was called off the practice field after authorities arrived at Chargers headquarters. Kiel was taken into the locker room, detained and read his rights, Fernandes said. His locker wasn't searched, but authorities searched his car, then took him to his house to execute a search warrant.
According to an affidavit for a search warrant made public Wednesday, FedEx managers searched a package Kiel mailed with his FedEx account in June and found 15 bottles of Prometh prescription cough syrup in the box. A boarding pass found inside the box led DEA agents to an address Kiel used to register a car. Three bottles of Prometh were seized last week at that address.
Kiel paid cash to send a second package to Texas last Thursday, prompting a FedEx manager to contact the DEA, according to the affidavit.
Fernandes said codeine-based cough syrup can be used to enhance, mitigate or temper other drugs, including cocaine and PCP.
"It goes right to the heart of what really is fueling an already out-of-control, raging fire of abuse of pharmaceutical drugs," Fernandes said.
Kiel was a second-round draft pick in 2003.
Three months after being drafted, Kiel was shot three times during an attempted carjacking in Houston. Kiel returned to play in all 16 games as a rookie, including eight starts.
It was the second run-in with the law by a Chargers player this month.
Outside linebacker Steve Foley was shot three times outside his suburban home on Sept. 3 by an off-duty Coronado police officer who suspected him of drunk driving. Foley will miss the entire season and forfeit at least $775,000 in pay.
"I'm very disappointed and very concerned," Smith said. "I'm not the least bit happy with all these things."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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