U.S. Customs agent charged with money laundering
by Greg Bluestein
Associated Press Writer
December 17, 2010 12:00 AM | 1150 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A law enforcement agent locks a handgun on display along with a kilo of cocaine, top right, and some of the 700,000 tabs of Ecstasy, lower right, worth more than $2.8 million seized from a drug bust.
A law enforcement agent locks a handgun on display along with a kilo of cocaine, top right, and some of the 700,000 tabs of Ecstasy, lower right, worth more than $2.8 million seized from a drug bust.
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ATLANTA - A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent was charged Thursday with using his badge to smuggle money and guns into the world's busiest airport, part of an undercover investigation authorities said led to more than a dozen other arrests and the dismantling of one of Georgia's biggest drug rings.

Devon Samuels, 45, is charged with laundering drug money, smuggling cash to an undercover agent in Jamaica and attempting to bring weapons onto an aircraft by using his clearance at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. He's also accused of taking a $500 bribe to help convince immigration officials that a sham marriage was legit.

The undercover investigation led authorities to a suspected drug house in suburban Atlanta, where they seized 700,000 tabs of Ecstasy worth more than $2.8 million.

A confidential informant gave law enforcement a tip about Samuels, said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. Officers then launched two separate investigations - one into Samuels' behavior and another into a drug smuggling group they say he helped.

The investigations led to the arrests of 13 other people in a drug ring, charged with firearm violations and conspiracy to traffic Ecstasy and marijuana. Samuels' wife Keisha Jones, a Delta Air Lines employee, also faces laundering and smuggling charges. And two more people are charged with seeking Samuels' help to commit marriage fraud.

He is in federal custody while a judge considers whether he should be released on bond.

An attorney representing Samuels could not immediately be reached.

Prosecutors said Samuels accepted money three times in November from an undercover officer posing as a drug money launderer, and said that each time he used his badge to avoid the airport's security screening. He traveled twice to Jamaica to deliver the money to an undercover police officer there, once bringing his wife along for the ride, they said.

Prosecutors also said he accepted five firearms and about $20,000 in drug money from an undercover officer Nov. 30. They said he bypassed security and gave the weapons and money to a second undercover officer who told him he was going to bring it to a meeting with members of a Mexican drug cartel.

At the same time, authorities were building a case against another drug smuggling ring that was linked to Samuels. They said Samuels ran illegal computer checks to determine whether Jerome Bushay, the group's suspected leader, and his associates were under a federal investigation.

Authorities started dismantling Bushay's ring in October, seizing some 700,000 Ecstasy pills from a home in Chamblee.

that were found hidden in insulation, crawl spaces and other out-of-reach places. Bushay and 12 others were arrested and charged with firearms violations and conspiracy to traffic ecstasy and marijuana.

Prosecutors also charged Samuels in a fraud marriage scheme. They say he was paid at least $500 help Carlton Ferguson and Dahlia McLaren deceive immigration officials into believing their marriage was genuine.

Authorities said the charges were a signal of how law enforcement can work together to unmask corruption.

"The law enforcement community here in Atlanta and around the country are 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 David D'Amato of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
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