Corrupt CBP Officer Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison on Drug & Gun Smuggling Charges

Phoenix New Times:  Atlanta Customs Agent, Devon Samuels, Thought He was Shipping Illegal Firearms to Arizona, Feds Say (Dec 16 2010)

An airport-based agent with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Atlanta, Georgia, believed he was shipping drug money and illegal guns to Mexican cartel members in Arizona, officials said Thursday.

Agent Devon Samuels, 45, was among 13 people arrested today on suspicion of a multitude of crimes, including taking payoffs from — and providing guns and cash to – people he thought were international drug dealers. A side investigation into a major drug ring resulted in a near-record-breaking seizure of an estimated $2.8 million in Ecstasy, according to a news release from the office of the U.S. Attorney in Georgia, Sally Qullian Yates.

Samuels, who also goes by “Smokey,” believed he was meeting with lackeys from drug cartels three times in November, but his contacts were really undercover officers.

GA Daily News:  Customs Agent Devon Samuels Charged With Drug Trafficking (Dec 16 2010)

Devon Samuels, 45, is charged with laundering drug money, smuggling cash to an undercover agent in Jamaica and attempting to bring weapons onto an aircraft by using his clearance at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. He’s also accused of taking a $500 bribe to help convince immigration officials that a sham marriage was legit.

A confidential informant gave law enforcement a tip about Samuels, said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. Officers then launched two separate investigations — one into Samuels’ behavior and another into a drug smuggling group they say he helped.

The investigations led to the arrests of 13 other people in a drug ring, charged with firearm violations and conspiracy to traffic Ecstasy and marijuana. Samuels’ wife Keisha Jones, a Delta Air Lines employee, also faces laundering and smuggling charges. And two more people are charged with seeking Samuels’ help to commit marriage fraud.

ATL Night Spots:  Customs Agent Devon Samuels Charged With Drug Trafficking (Dec 19 2010)

Prosecutors in Georgia say they have seized 700,000 tabs of Ecstasy and have charged a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent along with 13 others in what they say was a large-scale drug trafficking scheme.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Thursday authorities seized the Ecstasy worth more than $2.8 million at a house in Chamblee in northeast Atlanta.

Customs agent Devon Samuels is charged with laundering drug money, smuggling cash and attempting to bring weapons onto an aircraft.

WSB TV:  Federal Judge Denies Bond for Federal Officer (Dec 19 2010)

One evidence photo shows Samuels posing in his federal uniform with guns. Another shows him meeting with an alleged drug money launderer, who was really an undercover federal agent. That’s when prosecutors say Samuels agreed to carry five guns and $20,000 in cash into the Atlanta airport. A photo shows him pulling a carry-on as he scans his security badge at a secure door, to avoid the airport screening process. Then, prosecutors said he handed off the carry-on to another person, who would take the guns and cash to members of a Mexican drug cartel. But that was really an undercover officer, too.

Prosecutors said Samuels also smuggled tens of thousands of dollars to Jamaica, and used his security clearance to access a government computer to see if he and the alleged drug traffickers were under investigation.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:  Customs agent pleads guilty to funneling guns, drug money through airport (March 17 2011)

A customs agent from Stockbridge, nabbed in one of the biggest ecstasy seizures in U.S. history, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to launder drug money and attempting to smuggle guns onto an airplane.

In an unrelated case, Devon Samuels, 45, and his wife, Keisha Jones, a former Delta employee, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit marriage fraud. Samuels faces up to 45 years in prison and fines that could total $1 million, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

GA Daily News:  Customs agent Devon Samuels sentenced on drug charges (June 2 2011)

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who pleaded guilty in federal court to using his badge to smuggle guns into Atlanta’s airport and thousands of dollars to Jamaica was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Devon Samuels, who was sentenced Thursday, was charged in connection with three undercover sting operations with smuggling drug money and guns through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

U.S Department of Justice Press Release (June 2 2011)

DEVON SAMUELS, 45, of Stockbridge, Georgia, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. to federal prison on charges of conspiring to launder drug money and attempting to smuggle guns onto an airplane.  In a separate case, SAMUELS and his wife, KEISHA JONES, 30, also of Stockbridge, Georgia, were sentenced for conspiring to commit marriage fraud.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Mr. Samuels abused his position as a federal customs officer to smuggle guns and drug money through the world’s busiest airport for people he thought were international narcotics traffickers. This significant prison sentence should serve as a stinging reminder that corruption that compromises the safety and security of our borders and our transportation system will not be tolerated.”

SAMUELS was sentenced to 8 years in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. SAMUELS pleaded guilty to the charges on March 17, 2011.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: SAMUELS, a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, was charged in connection with three undercover sting operations with smuggling drug money and guns through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

On November 3, 2010, an undercover officer, posing as a drug money launderer, gave SAMUELS approximately $25,000 in money represented to be from the sale of drugs. By unlawfully using his badge to bypass security and avoid screening, SAMUELS smuggled the money through Atlanta’s airport to Jamaica. Once in Jamaica, SAMUELS delivered the money to a Jamaican  undercover police officer who was posing as an international drug trafficker.

On November 19, 2010, SAMUELS accepted over $50,000 in purported drug money from another undercover officer.  SAMUELS then traveled from Atlanta to Jamaica, where SAMUELS delivered the money to Jamaican undercover police officers. While in Atlanta’s airport, SAMUELS again unlawfully used his badge to bypass security and avoid being screened.

Finally, on November 30, 2010, SAMUELS accepted five firearms and approximately $20,000 in alleged drug money from an undercover police officer. SAMUELS smuggled  the firearms and money into the airport by using his badge to bypass security.  Once inside the airport, SAMUELS gave the firearms and money to a second undercover officer who had told SAMUELS that she was going to transport the firearms and money  to Arizona for a meeting with members of a Mexican drug cartel.

In the marriage fraud scheme, beginning in November 2009, SAMUELS used his knowledge of immigration policies to assist CARLTON FERGUSON, 35, of Decatur, Georgia, and DAHLIA McLAREN, 30, formerly of Decatur, Georgia, to deceive U.S. immigration authorities into believing that FERGUSON and McLAREN’s sham marriage was genuine. SAMUELS and JONES (his wife) were paid to falsely complete the immigration paperwork necessary for MCLAREN to obtain United States citizenship through her sham marriage to FERGUSON. SAMUELS, JONES, FERGUSON, and McLAREN have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

In the marriage fraud case,  SAMUELS was sentenced to 5 years in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.  JONES was sentenced to 6 months of home confinement, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service. SAMUELS and JONES were convicted of this charge on March 17, 2011 upon their pleas of guilty.

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