Sheriff Accused Of Moonlighting As Security For Drug Traffickers

Sheriff Accused Of Moonlighting As Security For Drug Traffickers

By Keri Blakinger 01/19/18

The feds allege that the deputy bargained for a $250,000 payout in exchange for a large-scale cocaine, meth and cash transport.

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a group of Los Angeles County Sheriff officers
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A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was one of four men arrested for allegedly moonlighting as security for drug traffickers. 

Deputy Kenneth Collins was arrested by the FBI in a Tuesday morning sting following months of investigation involving undercover agents, covertly recorded conversations, a trip to Las Vegas, and pounds and pounds of fake drugs. 

The 50-year-old and his confederates were collared in Pasadena, where authorities said the men were prepping to provide security for a Las Vegas-bound shipment of 45 pounds of coke and 13 pounds of meth, according to the Department of Justice. But the drug haul, it turned out, was a ruse by the feds designed to ensnare the targets of their months-long probe.

“Deputy Collins sold his badge to assist an individual he thought was a drug trafficker,” U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said in a release. “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 investigation kicked off in August, when an undercover FBI agent posing as the family member of a wealthy grow house investor came to Collins pretending to need security for an illicit marijuana operation. 

In one meeting, Collins whipped out his sheriff’s badge before allegedly taking $5,000 in “good faith” money for future services. 

Repeatedly, he offered to “fix” problems by assaulting people and, in one instance, allegedly set a luxury Cadillac truck on fire. 

During a “test run,” Collins reportedly helped set up a 2-pound pot sale, then offered to help oversee $4 million in marijuana sales monthly, according to court filings. 

In November, Collins and his cohorts allegedly accepted $25,000 to do security for a shipment of meth and pot—though the drugs were actually fake. In January, he bargained for a $250,000 payout in exchange for a large-scale cocaine, meth and cash transport, the feds allege. 

But when the would-be drug-runner security team showed up for the job, the FBI arrested them. 

Along with 51-year-old David Easter and 34-year-old Grant Valencia, Collins faces charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. If convicted, they could face up to life in prison. A fourth man, Maurice Desi Font, is expected to be charged separately.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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