Daniel Chong was the victim of an appalling blunder. He said he was locked in a tiny, pitch-black cell and completely forgotten about for five days. He said he had no food or water the whole time.
"I did what I had to do to survive," said Chong in a press conference.
"It is totally inconceivable that this could happen to anybody, especially a young man that was set to go home," said Julia Yoo, Chong's lawyer.
Chong's ordeal happened at a DEA field office near San Diego. He was taken there after being arrested with some friends in a college drug roundup. He said he was placed in a holding cell and told he'd be released in a matter of hours. But he said once the door slammed shut, he didn't see a living soul for five excruciating days.
"As soon as they said they were going to let me go, that door never opened," said Chong.
The 23-year-old from the University of California at San Diego said he screamed for help and banged on the locked door but nobody answered.
Chong said he was held in a cell just 5 feet by 10 feet. He said there was no toilet and no window and his cell had no lights.
Chong told reporters he was so despondent he tried to commit suicide by breaking his glasses and cutting "Sorry Mom" on his arm.
Five days after his ordeal started, a DEA official happened to open the door, and to his shock, saw Chong inside. The student spent three days in intensive care being treated for damaged kidneys.
In a statement to INSIDE EDITION, the DEA admits Chong "Was accidentally left in one of the cells."
The agent in charge said, "I extend my deepest apologies to the young man and want to express that this event is not indicative of the high standards that I hold my employees to."
Chong was never formally arrested or charged. He says he is planning to sue the DEA.