A border patrol agent in the United States was arrested earlier this month and charged with drug trafficking after police traced a massive drug deal back to him. The border agent, 53-year-old Carlos Victor Passapera Pinnot, reportedly handed off two large duffle bags to a buyer that he met at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport very early in the morning. Just after the deal went down, police pulled the buyer over and searched his vehicle, but it is not clear how long they were watching him.
After searching the vehicle, police found 350,000 fentanyl pills and 21 kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of heroin, and one additional kilogram of fentanyl. After searching Passapera’s home, police also found nearly $330,000 in cash in his home and then $40,000 more 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.
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.
In some cases, the agents just take the drugs themselves. In 2018 a Border Patrol agent from San Diego, California named Brandon Herrera was found unconscious in a pickup truck parked on the street and was arrested for heroin possession.
There is a huge financial incentive for soldiers and government workers to use their positions to smuggle contraband across the border. This is exactly why drugs and contraband flow through prisons, behind many layers of walls and barbed wire. Even at airports, which are now as secure as prisons, people are still capable of sneaking guns and other prohibited items onto flights. Whenever there is a demand or desire to move something across the border, there will always be someone in a position of authority who will be willing to help out for a price.