A US Border patrol agent was recently arrested and charged with drug trafficking after he was found with roughly 350,000 fentanyl pills along with other drugs, including kilos of cocaine and heroin.
53-year-old Carlos Victor Passapera Pinnot was assigned to patrol the border in Tucson, Arizona, but he was apparently using his position and the cover it provides to run a large drug trafficking operation. There is a chance that he may have remained undetected by authorities if he chose a smarter place to make his drug deals, but he was ultimately caught because he decided to meet his buyer at an airport.
Airports are among the worst places to make a drug deal because they are such high-security areas, which are typically filled with cameras and police that are always looking for any sign of suspicious activity.
Passapera met his buyer at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in the early morning hours and placed two large duffle bags in the buyer’s vehicle. The buyer was later stopped by police who searched his vehicle and found a large assortment of drugs, including the 350,000 fentanyl pills and 21 kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of heroin, and one additional kilogram of fentanyl.
Passapera was arrested later that day, and during the raid, authorities found nearly $330,000 in his home and $40,000 in his vehicle, according to a press release from the Justice Department.
It is not entirely clear how investigators were able to connect Passapera with the buyer so quickly. It is very possible that the buyer told police his identity, but they could have also very easily tracked phone records if Passapera communicated on a device that he had registered under his name, or stored on his property. Since they met at the airport, it would have also been very easy for investigators to look at CCTV footage to see who met the buyer.
“On August 9, 2020, at approximately 3:15 AM, Passapera left his residence and drove south to a remote area of the border west of the Lukeville Port of Entry. Passapera then drove to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where he loaded two duffel bags into another vehicle. Law enforcement agents stopped the driver of that vehicle after it left the airport, and searched the duffel bags,” the press release stated.
The Department of Homeland Security, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) took part in the investigation along with local law enforcement. If convicted, Passapera could face a minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
This is certainly not the first or only time that a border patrol agent has been caught using their position to traffic drugs, in fact, it happens fairly often.
In 2016, Eduardo Baza Jr, a border patrol agent from Texas, was arrested in connection with his activity in a drug ring that dated back to the previous decade. After he was arrested, Bazan admitted to being a part of a drug ring in which border patrol agents would confiscate cocaine from dealers and then cut or “water down” the product with fillers before selling it back onto the black market.
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