FBI says LA sheriff's deputy provided 'security' on narcotics shipments

By Ray Downs  |  Jan. 17, 2018 at 12:40 AM
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Jan. 17 (UPI) -- FBI agents set-up a sting operation and arrested a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff for attempting to provide "security" for the delivery of 45 pounds of cocaine and 13 pounds of methamphetamine, officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in California said Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff Kenneth Collins, 50, told an undercover agent that he would lead a team to accompany the narcotics shipment and "take calculated steps to prevent legitimate law enforcement from intercepting the drugs" in exchange for up to $250,000.

When asked why he charged so much, Collins allegedly told the undercover agent, "We're cops" and "all of our transports make it through."

On Tuesday morning, Collins and two other men arrived in Pasadena, Calif. to allegedly carry out the security task but were met with FBI agents and placed under arrest.

David Easter, 51, and Grant Valencia, 34, who were not listed as police officers, were also arrested.

"Deputy Collins sold his badge to assist an individual he thought was a drug trafficker," U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said in a statement. "The deputy allegedly used his status as a law enforcement officer as a guarantee when he promised safe travels for large quantities of illegal narcotics. This case is part of our long-standing and ongoing commitment to root out corruption, particularly when it involves sworn law enforcement officers."

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Collins, Easter and Valencia carried out a similar security operation for an undercover agent in November. At the time, the three men allegedly helped transport what they believed was six kilograms of methamphetamine, along with marijuana and counterfeit cigarettes.

According to the affidavit, the FBI began investigating Collins after they suspected him of accepting cash payments to provide illegal security for illegal marijuana grow facilities and distributing other controlled substances.

Collins, a 15-year veteran of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, also allegedly told the undercover agent who was posing as a drug dealer he was available for other services, such as assaulting people who posed problems to the undercover agent in exchange for cash.

Collins and the other two men arrested Tuesday each face life in prison for federal drug trafficking conspiracy charges.

The LASD said it is cooperating with the FBI in the investigation and Collins has been placed on administrative leave.

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