Federal prosecutors arrested a California deputy sheriff and two other law enforcement officers after they allegedly received $250,000 to protect drug shipments.
“We’re cops” and “all of our transports make it through,” Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Kenneth Collins told an undercover FBI agent, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Prosecutors charged Collins and two of his conspirators with offering to provide protection to shipments of 45 pounds of cocaine and 13 pounds of methamphetamine, officials stated in a criminal complaint.
The “security team” would accompany the narcotics shipments and take steps to make sure other law enforcement agencies did not intercept the loads. For that, prosecutors said they cops would receive payments as high as $250,000.
In November, Collins and his crew allegedly escorted what they believed to be six kilograms of methamphetamine, a load of marijuana, and counterfeit cigarettes.
“Deputy Collins sold his badge to assist an individual he thought was a drug trafficker,” United States Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said in a written statement. “The deputy allegedly used his status as a law enforcement officer as a guarantee when he promised safe travels for large quantities of illegal narcotics. This case is part of our long-standing and ongoing commitment to root out corruption, particularly when it involves sworn law enforcement officers.”
Collins allegedly accepted a $25,000 cash payment in November for escorting the shipment of drugs from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Collins, along with alleged co-conspirators David Easter, 51, from the Hyde Park District of Los Angeles, and Grant Valencia, 34, from Pamona provided the contracted services, officials stated.
FBI agents arrested the trio on Tuesday after they allegedly agreed to escort a shipment of 20 kilograms of cocaine, six kilograms of methamphetamine, and a load of cash from Pasadena to Las Vegas. Official said the men accepted an offer of $250,000 to perform their “security” services.
Police also arrested Maurice Desi Font, 56, of South Los Angeles on Tuesday. A criminal complaint will be filed in that case shortly.
Following the success of the November transport, Collins discussed with the primary undercover agent another, larger shipment. During a meeting on January 5, Collins agreed to bring Easter and Valencia – as well as other team members – to oversee the transport of 20 kilograms of cocaine, six kilograms of methamphetamine and cash. Although the undercover agent initially offered $75,000 as payment to Collins and his team, according to the affidavit, Collins pushed for more, saying that his “guys” are used to providing security for “bigger loads.” Collins ultimately agreed to provide his team’s services in exchange for $250,000.
“Deputy Collins used his position of trust and appropriated his authority to conduct lucrative criminal activity with others at the expense of Los Angeles County residents,” Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said in the statement. ”
While our investigation continues to determine whether others may have been involved, this should not be viewed as an indictment of the many dedicated servants at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, some of whom brought this unlawful activity to our attention. Today’s arrest exemplifies the FBI’s commitment to weeding out corruption by public officials and restoring trust in our law enforcement professionals.”
If convicted, the men could face a sentence of up to life in prison.