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U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Indicted on Drug Trafficking Charges

TUCSON, AZ—A federal grand jury in Tucson has returned a four-count superseding indictment against U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer (CBPO) Luis Carlos Vasquez, 32; Victor Stuppi, 40; Jesus Antonio Chavez-Bustamante, 25; and Karla Beatriz Prieto, 23, all of Douglas, Ariz; and Saul Lizarraga-Roldan, 37; and Marcos Abraham Sandoval-Lizarraga, 22, both of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to import marijuana and importation of marijuana.

The indictment alleges that CBPO Vasquez conspired with the others named in the indictment to import marijuana through the Douglas Port of Entry (POE) while Vasquez was working an inspection lane. It is also alleged that on June 17, 2011, while Vasquez was working an inspection lane at the Douglas POE, he knowingly allowed 547 kilograms of marijuana to pass through his inspection lane in a Chevrolet Avalanche.

“Law enforcement officials must be held to a higher standard of conduct,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. “In the rare and regrettable circumstance where a sworn officer crosses the line into criminal conduct and violates their oath and the public’s trust, they will be brought to justice.”

Vasquez was arrested on Friday, September, 23, 2011, and had his initial appearance today in federal court in Tucson. Vasquez was released pending trial on a $100,000 personal appearance bond. Stuppi has been released on a $50,000 personal appearance bond, Prieto has been released pending trial, Chavez-Bustamante and Lizarraga-Roldan have been detained pending trial and Sandoval-Lizarraga remains at large.

“This indictment signifies a collaborative effort by the FBI’s Border Corruption Task Force,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge James L. Turgal Jr., Phoenix Division. “When a law enforcement officer participates in drug trafficking it taints the badge and memory of all those in law enforcement who risk their lives every day to uphold our laws and serve the public with trust and honor. The FBI, alongside our law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively pursue those responsible for corruption along the border and those who violate the public’s trust.”

A conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana carries a maximum penalty of 40 years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum term of five years, a $5,000,000 fine or both. Possession with intent to distribute marijuana carries a maximum penalty of 40 years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum term of five years, a $5,000,000 fine or both. Conspiracy to import marijuana carries a maximum penalty of 40 years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum term of five years, a $5,000,000 fine or both. Importation of marijuana carries a maximum penalty of 40 years’ imprisonment with a mandatory minimum term of five years, a $5,000,000 fine or both. In determining an actual sentence, Judge David C. Bury will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by FBI-Sierra Vista, ICE Office of Professional Responsibility, the FBI’s Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force, and the Douglas Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Joshua C. Mellor, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Tucson.

CASE NUMBER: CR-11-2486-TUC-DCB
RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-219(Vasquez)

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