LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy and three others have been arrested on federal accusations they provided security for drug transports and illegal marijuana grow operations.
Deputy Sheriff Kenneth Collins, 50, of Chino, and three others were taken into custody by FBI agents Tuesday morning in Pasadena where they believed they were set to provide security for a transport of 58 pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine, the U.S. district attorney’s office reports.
Collins allegedly planned for his team to accompany the drugs in exchange for up to $250,000 in cash, the DA’s office said.
Collins, 51-year-old David Easter of Hyde Park District, 34-year-old Grant Valencia of Pomona and 56-year-old Maurice Desi Font of South L.A. are charged conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
This was the second such incident. Collins received $25,000 in exchange for providing security for a Nov. 14 transport of six kilograms of meth and marijuana and counterfeit cigarettes from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. This transport was in fact part of an undercover sting by the FBI.
Collins told undercover FBI agents that “all of our transports make it through,” the DA said.
According to an affidavit filed last week, when the FBI began suspecting Collins, an undercover agent posing as a representative for a wealthy investor first met with him in August of last year. Collins told to the agent that he provided security for an illegal marijuana grow house and claimed to have three teams that were providing security for multiple drug operations in L.A. and San Bernardino counties, the DA said.
Collins acknowledged to the undercover agent that he was a law enforcement officer. Over the course of several meetings, he claimed he could “fix problems” using a team of “cops,” the affidavit states.
At one point, Collins told the agent he had set a luxury truck on fire for a Boston client.
“Deputy Collins sold his badge to assist an individual he thought was a drug trafficker,” said United States Attorney Nicola T. Hanna in a 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.”
In a tweet Tuesday, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the sheriff’s department “brought this unlawful misconduct to the attention of federal investigators”.
All four suspects were expected to appear in federal court in downtown L.A. Tuesday afternoon. If convicted, each of the suspects faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.