A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who allegedly agreed to oversee deliveries of narcotics and other contraband in exchange for cash payments was indicted Friday, along with two other men, on federal narcotics and firearms charges.
Deputy Kenneth Collins and his co-defendants were arrested Jan. 16 by FBI agents after arriving in Pasadena, allegedly to provide “security” for the transport of nearly 45 pounds of cocaine and more than 13 pounds of methamphetamine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
During the FBI’s undercover investigation, Collins allegedly agreed that he and his team would accompany the narcotics and take calculated steps to prevent legitimate law enforcement from intercepting the drugs — in exchange for cash payments as high as $250,000, according to federal prosecutors.
The three-count indictment filed in federal court in Los Angeles names Collins, 50, of Chino; David Easter, 51, of the Hyde Park district of Los Angeles; and Grant Valencia, 34, of Pomona. The indictment alleges the three provided security in November for the transport of what they thought was 13 pounds of methamphetamine, as well as marijuana and counterfeit cigarettes.
In justifying the high fees for his services, Collins — a 15-year veteran of the sheriff’s department — told an undercover FBI agent “we’re cops” and “all of our transports make it through,” the indictment alleges.
After Collins’ arrest, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement noting that it brought the allegations of criminal misconduct against Collins to the attention of federal investigators several months ago, and since then, “has been directly cooperating with the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation during all aspects of the investigation.”
Collins was most recently assigned to the County Services Bureau. He has been placed on administrative leave, according to the sheriff’s department.
According to an affidavit, the FBI had been investigating Collins in relation to an alleged scheme to accept cash payments in exchange for providing security for illegal marijuana grow facilities, as well as assisting in the distribution of controlled substances.
An undercover FBI agent “who was posing as a family member of a wealthy investor looking to finance an illegal marijuana grow house ” first met with Collins in August, the document alleges.
The three were initially charged in a federal criminal complaint at the time of their arrest.
–City News Service
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