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Tag: drug trafficking

Ex-Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to 166 months in prison in Drug Trafficking Scheme

Ex-Border Patrol Agent Daniel Polanco.

By Steve Neavling

A former Border Patrol agent who was indicted on multiple drug trafficking charges and threatening a federal agent with bodily harm has been sentenced to 166 months in prison.

Daniel Polanco, 39, of Edinburg, Texas, was among six law enforcement officials charged in a scheme to steal cocaine and marijuana from drug dealers in the Rio Grande Valley before selling the drugs in Houston.  

His conviction was part of operation Blue Shame, an ongoing sting designed to root out corrupt law enforcement officers. Homeland Security is leading the operation, with the help of local police, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and CBP’s air and marine units.

U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison said Polanco exploited his position of trust as a law enforcement officer in order to commit crimes. 

“Every day, dedicated law enforcement officers across the nation risk their lives to make our communities safe, DEA Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple said in a statement. “The criminal actions of Daniel Polanco, for which he was justly sentenced, demean that dedication and sacrifice. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to target all narcotics traffickers, especially those who abuse their office and the trust of the American Public.”

The Justice Department wrote in a news release:

The investigation began in 2011 when authorities targeted a drug trafficking organization involved in the transportation and distribution of cocaine and marijuana. Authorities soon found the organization was also stealing loads of cocaine and marijuana from sources of supply. As part of the scheme, the organization had created fake bundles of drugs and used law enforcement officers to seize them in order to cover up the theft.

At trial, the jury heard Polanco helped facilitate the distribution of more than 15 kilograms of cocaine in April 2013. He and others were hired to transport the cocaine but stole it instead and sold the cocaine for profit. To cover up the theft, co-conspirators created fake drug bundles that were placed in an abandoned vehicle. Polanco assisted in the planning and staging of that incident and devised a plan to ensure law enforcement seized the sham bundles. He personally called authorities to report the abandoned vehicle and falsely reported the vehicle as looking suspicious.

Testimony revealed the drug trafficking organization paid Polanco for his participation in the scheme to seize the fake drugs. The jury also heard he made a false statement to an agent who was investigating the 15-kilogram cocaine seizure in an attempt to cover up his involvement in the transaction.

Polanco testified at trial and denied participating in the scheme. The jury did not believe his claims and convicted him of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and knowingly giving a false statement to a federal agent.

Following that verdict and losing a legal motion, Polanco threatened one of the federal agents involved in the case. He was charged and later convicted of threatening to commit bodily harm with the intent to intimidate, interfere or impede the agent while he was engaged in the performance of his official duties and/or to retaliate against him for performance of his official duties.

The drug trafficking investigation has led to the arrest and prosecution of 20 individuals including six law enforcement officers, one of whom has already received a 10-year prison term.

Operation to Root Out Corrupt Law Enforcement Leads to Arrest of DEA Officer

Johnny Jacob Domingue, former DEA task force officer.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former DEA task force officer in Louisiana who previously admitted stealing drugs and money while on the job found himself in federal court in another case in which he’s accused of distributing more than five kilograms of cocaine.

Johnny Jacob Domingue was arrested in McAllen, Texas, on Wednesday on allegations he negotiated the purchase and transport of cocaine this summer, the Justice Department announced.

The arrest was part of Operation Blue Shame, an ongoing sting designed to root out corrupt law enforcement officers. Homeland Security is leading the operation, with the help of local police, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and CBP’s air and marine units.

Domingue is accused of traveling from Louisiana to Edinburg, Texas, to pick up a vehicle loaded with cocaine stashed in a secret compartment and then distribute the drugs drugs, according to ICE.

Domingue faces 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine.

Operation Blue Shame has led to the arrests and prosecution of at least seven law enforcement officers and 20 individuals.

Pittsburgh Man Charged with Shooting ATF Agent During Raid of His Home

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Pittsburgh man accused of shooting an ATF agent during a raid at his home in June has been charged with assault on a federal employee and violating federal firearms laws.

Dion Williams, 44, was indicted by a federal grand jury after authorities say he shot the agent during a raid following a wiretap investigation into cocaine trafficking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release Wednesday.

The agent was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

“My office has zero tolerance for assaults upon or violence directed against law enforcement officers. Violent drug trafficking felons like Dion Williams who brazenly use illegal firearms to shoot at law enforcement officers have no place in western Pennsylvania,” U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said. “We will continue to use all available resources to dismantle drug gangs and bring violent criminals to justice, and to protect the men and women of law enforcement who work tirelessly every day to keep us all safe.”

Williams and 11 others have been arrested and charged with possession and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The investigation is connected to a larger drug-trafficking probe involving the “11 Hunnit” street gang, Brady said.

“It’s essential that we keep law enforcement officers safe as they protect and serve the nation’s communities,” Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman said. “Assault on law enforcement officers undermines the rule of law and will not be tolerated. Anyone who fires at law enforcement threatens the safety of our community and will face serious legal consequences. I am thankful the injured ATF agent is recovering and appreciative of his service and dedication.”

Authorities Seize Nearly $700,000 in Cash Stowed Away by Border Patrol Agent Accused of Drug Trafficking, Prosecutors Say

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Authorities found more than $680,000 in the home, vehicle, and safe deposit box of a Border Patrol agent who has been charged with drug trafficking, federal court documents show.

Carlos Victor Passapera Pinott, 53, assigned to the Tucson Sector Ajo Border Patrol Station, has been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

Federal agents found $370,000 in at his house and vehicle and another $311,000 in a safe deposit box, Tucson.com reports.

Prosecutors say Passapera was caught loading two duffel bags full of drugs into a vehicle at an airport in Phoenix. The bags contained 21 kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of heroin and one kilogram of fentanyl, plus some 350,000 pills believed to fentanyl, according to prosecutors.

If convicted, Passapera faces up to life in jail and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.

U.S. Teen Arrested for Using Remote-Controlled Car to Transport Meth Across Border

Remote-controlled car seized by Border Patrol, via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A 16-year-old U.S. citizen was arrested after Border Patrol agents said he was transporting methamphetamine across the border using a remote-controlled car.

Agents on Sunday arrested the boy, who was spotted walking along a secondary border wall with two duffel bags stuffed with 50 packages of meth weighing nearly 56 pounds. He also had a remote-controlled car.

Meth found in duffel bags, via CBP.

The drugs have an estimated street value of $106,096, according to CBP.

The arrest comes two years after agents foiled drug traffickers who were using a remote-controlled drone to fly the narcotics across the border. In that case, a 25-year-old drone operator was sentenced last year to 12 years in prison.

“I am extremely proud of the agents’ heightened vigilance and hard work in stopping this unusual smuggling scheme,” San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison said in a news release.

Drug Trafficker Busted with Marijuana Stuffed in Bundles Resembling Limes

Marijuana was found stuffed inside bundles that resembled limes.

Marijuana was found stuffed inside bundles that resembled limes.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol officials found nearly 4,000 pounds of marijuana hidden in what looked like a large shipment of limes.

The Jan. 30 raid near McAllen revealed nearly 35,000 lime-shaped bundles inside a tractor-trailer at the Pharr International Bridge, CBP said in a press release Tuesday .

The value of the marijuana was about $789,000.

Federal authorities continue to investigate.

Border Patrol Agent Accused of Working with Drug Traffickers

border patrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent in South Texas is accused of working with drug traffickers to stage narcotics seizures and sell the drugs for profit.

Eduardo Bazan Jr. was arrested Friday and charged with making false statements about a federal investigation of drug traffickers, San Antonio Express-News reports. 

Bazan’s alleged crimes occurred in February 2007, but agents with Homeland Security Investigations in McCallen didn’t learn of it until October 2013.

“The drug trafficking organization coordinated staged narcotic seizures of sham, or diluted, narcotics with the assistance of law enforcement officials, which enabled the organization to steal drug loads from unwitting narcotics sources of supply,” the complaint says.

The Express-News wrote:

Investigators say one such cocaine seizure took place near the McAllen Border Patrol station with Bazan’s assistance. Federal agents searched the agency database for the report Bazan filed in 2007 detailing the incident.

When HSI agents recently interviewed Bazan, he recalled seizing the load, telling investigators that border agents had discovered bundles of cocaine in a Honda Civic, the criminal complaint says. At first, Bazan denied being tipped off to the location of the drug load and to having received payment for making the seizure.

But when HSI agents interviewed Bazan two days later, he admitted to lying, the document states. Bazan told them he had received information that led to the seizure of about 150 pounds of cocaine and that in return he was paid around $8,000. At first, Bazan claimed to have chased suspects from the drug-laden vehicle, but he later admitted there were no suspects, confessing it was a ruse to make the seizure appear legitimate to other agents, according to the criminal complaint.

Walls at U.S.-Mexico Border Have Proven to Be Ineffective, Waste of Money

Tunnel beneath a border fence.

Tunnel beneath a border fence.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Concerned about drug smugglers and illegal immigrants coming into the U.S. from Mexico, the federal government built a fence to curb the traffic.

It didn’t work, Vice News reports.

“We came with this 18-foot wall, and the very next day they had 19-foot ladders,” Border Patrol Agent Chris Cabrera recalled recently. “It got to the point where we had so many ladders at the station that they told us to stop bringing the ladders in. It was just insane the number of ladders we had. Hundreds upon hundreds.”

The issue of a barrier at the border has picked up steam after Donald Trump promised to build an “impenetrable and beautiful” wall at the border.

Vice wrote:

But people who actually live along the border in the Rio Grande Valley are extremely skeptical. Border Patrol agents like Cabrera, local police, elected officials, and people who live with the existing wall in their backyards say it has been an epic boondoggle. Seemingly everyone in the area agrees that any plan to build a new wall or expand the existing fence is a bad idea.

“It’s a waste of money, period,” said Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio, whose jurisdiction sits opposite Matamoros, one of the most dangerous corners of Mexico. “It’s not going to work. I don’t care what [Trump] is saying.”

In Texas, the existing fence — or wall, depending on your definition of the term — mostly consists of rows of cube-shaped, rust-colored posts that stand about 20 feet tall. The columns are spaced about four inches apart, too narrow for even a child to squeeze through. But the fence abruptly ends in some places, leaving vast open stretches. In the most absurd cases, 30-foot sections of fence are surrounded on both sides by miles of wide open space.

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