ATLANTA (Reuters) - U.S. authorities indicted a customs officer on Thursday for smuggling guns and drug money through Atlanta’s airport after they nabbed him in a sting operation linked to a big seizure of the drug ecstasy.
As part of Operation Rude Beast, undercover agents gave customs officer Devon Samuels $72,000 and told him it came from drug sales. He smuggled the cash through the airport to Jamaica, where Jamaican undercover agents received it.
Samuels used his badge to bypass security and avoid airport screening, according to a federal indictment.
Samuels is also charged with accepting five firearms and $20,000 in alleged drug money from a U.S. undercover agent.
After flashing his badge to get inside the airport, he gave the weapons and money to another undercover agent who told him he was taking them to Arizona for a meeting with members of a Mexican drug cartel, according to the indictment.
Samuels also checked government computers to see if he or his associates were under investigation, said the indictment.
One name Samuels checked was that of a suspect in a related drug investigation, which led to the October 1 seizure near Atlanta of 700,000 tablets of the drug ecstasy worth $2.8 million, the largest U.S. seizure this year, prosecutors said.
“The law enforcement community ... (is) committed to weeding out those whose acts tarnish the image of the many officers and agents who work tirelessly to keep our communities and country safe,” said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent David D’Amato.
D’Amato heads ICE’s Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility for the southeastern United States.
Editing by Matthew Bigg and Greg McCune