A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy made a deal with drug dealers to protect them in exchange for cash, according to a federal complaint filed in Los Angeles last week.
Deputy Kenneth Collins, 50, of Chino and three other men – Grant Valencia, 34, of Pomona and David Easter, 51, of Hyde Park and Maurice Desi Font, 56, – allegedly planned to take kickbacks in exchange for protecting drug traffickers, police say. Collins, Valencia and Easter face charges for “conspiracy to distribute controlled substances,” FOX 11 reported. Font is expected to be charged in a second criminal complaint, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The criminal complaint says Collins and the other men were reportedly preparing to “provide security” for the trafficking of about 13 pounds of methamphetamine and 45 pounds of cocaine to Las Vegas, the U.S. Department of Justice stated. The men were reportedly preparing to get paid $250,000 for the job.
The affidavit mentioned another transport where Collins made a deal with an undercover agent to transport methamphetamine, marijuana and counterfeit cigarettes to Las Vegas in November. The agent and Collins agreed on $25,000 for the safe travel. The methamphetamine was fake, court documents stated.
Collins, a 15-year veteran of the force, reportedly told one of the undercover FBI agents “we’re cops and all of our transports make it through,” court documents stated.
Collins was being investigated for months in connection to a “scheme to accept cash payments for providing security for illegal marijuana grow facilities,” ABC 7 reported.
An undercover agent “who was posing as a family member of a wealthy investor looking to finance an illegal marijuana grow house” met with the deputy in August, court documents stated.
Agents recorded him talking about “his extensive drug trafficking network, past criminal conduct and willingness to accept to use his law enforcement status for criminal purposes,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I fix problems,” Collins was heard telling an FBI agent. “I make a lot of things go away.”
The deputy also claimed to have “a very professional team” with “cops who travel with guns.”
"Deputy Collins sold his badge to assist an individual he thought was a drug trafficker," U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said. "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."
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell called Collins’ arrest “tragic.”
"I guess if you look at it from a system standpoint, the system worked. We found out about criminal misconduct, caused an investigation to be done, worked with our federal partners and then ended up with what we saw today with an indictment," McDonnell said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department wrote in a statement on their Facebook page that they “brought up the allegations of criminal misconduct to the attention of federal investigators several months ago.”
Collins was reassigned to the County Services Bureau but has since been placed on administrative leave by the department pending the investigation.
Each suspect could face up to life in prison if convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy.