ARIZONA NEWS

Former U.S. border patrol agent sentenced to 18 years in prison for bribery and drug smuggling

Apr 13, 2024, 8:00 PM | Updated: Apr 14, 2024, 11:57 am

File photo of Border Patrol agent in Arizona...

A former border patrol agent was sentenced for drug smuggling and bribery crimes. (Customs and Border Protection File Photo)

(Customs and Border Protection File Photo)

PHOENIX — A Buckeye man who served as a United States border patrol agent was sentenced to 18 years in prison and five years of supervised release, the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona announced Friday.

Carlos Victor Passapera Pinott, 56, was sentenced after pleading guilty on June 23 to bribery of a public official and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, fentanyl and heroin.

“The citizens of Arizona are the true victims of this crime. Passapera was a trusted agent who took an oath to protect our border and keep drugs out. He broke that oath when he chose money over honor to transport and distribute drugs in this country,” FBI Phoenix Special Agent in Charge Akil Davis said. “We hope this sentence demonstrates that corruption does not pay, and the FBI will continue to investigate and pursue those who abuse their positions.”

Two other individuals pleaded guilty to related bribery charges in 2022 and each received time served after each person spent about two years in custody.

“A border patrol agent using his position to smuggle fentanyl and heroin into the United States is unconscionable,” Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Dr. Joseph V. Cuffari said. “Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that government officials who betray the people they are meant to protect are held accountable.”

How did law enforcement catch the border patrol agent?

Passapera drove his border patrol vehicle into the desert, west of the Lukeville Port of Entry, to retrieve two duffel bags on Aug. 9, 2020, according to the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.

He then changed vehicles before driving the bags to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where he passed off the bags to a co-conspirator, who was caught and searched by law enforcement shortly after leaving the airport.

Authorities found and seized 21 kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of fentanyl and one kilogram of heroin. They also found over $311,000 in Passapera’s safe deposit box.

He then admitted to using his position to smuggle drugs for large monetary payments.

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Former U.S. border patrol agent sentenced to 18 years in prison for bribery and drug smuggling