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Archive for August 17th, 2022

Drug Trafficker Who Paid Bribes to DEA Agent Sentenced to More Than 11 Years in Prison

By Steve Neavling

A convicted California drug trafficker was sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison for paying bribes to a corrupt DEA agent, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Francisco Gonzalez Benitez, 37, pleaded guilty in April 2021 to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances, distribution of methamphetamine, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. 

Between 2016 and 2019, Benitez operated multi-state conspiracies to distribute large quantities of cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine from California to Florida and Arkansas and launder the proceeds. 

Benitez also worked as an informant for DEA Agent Nathan Koen and paid him thousand of dollars in bribes to provide protection for his drug operation. 

In May, Koen was sentenced to 135 months in prison. He provided sensitive law enforcement information that helped Benitez run his drug operation and avoid detection by authorities. 

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the IRS, FBI and DEA. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Coolican prosecuted the case. 

CBP Names New Port Director at CBP’s Calexico Port of Entry

Port Director Roque Caza

By Steve Neavling

Roque Caza has been named the new port director at the CBP’s Calexico Port of Entry.

“I am excited and humbled to lead the men and women at the Port of Calexico, and I look forward to working closely and collaboratively with our local stakeholders to ensure the region remains prosperous while also protecting the public we are proud to serve,” Caza said in a statement.

Caza previously served as the director of CBP’s Counter Network Division within the National Targeting Center in Sterling, Va. 

He also served as the assistant director within CND. 

Caza’s career with CBP began in 2000 at the former U.S. Customs Service at the Port of Nogales, Ariz. He also served as the acting port director and an assistant port director at the Port of San Luis, Ariz.

At the Calexico Port of Entry, CBP officers at the two passenger crossings process more than 5.7 million vehicles and 11.4 million travelers a year. 

Calexico is third busiest border crossing within the San Diego Field Office. It includes six land border crossings between California and Mexico. 

In his new role, Caza also will oversee the Andrade port of entry. 

“Mr. Caza is a strong, proven leader that will serve us well as the Port Director in Calexico,” Anne Maricich, acting director of field operations for CBP in San Diego, said.  “We look forward to how Port Director Caza will use his experience as he takes on this new role to support our mission to keep legitimate trade and travel flowing while securing the U.S. border.”