Los Angeles, CA – A deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office (LACSO) was arrested by FBI agents on Tuesday morning, after he allegedly agreed to provide security for an illegal narcotics transport between Southland and Vegas.
The U.S. Department of Justice said that Deputy Kenneth Collins, 50, and three accomplices were apprehended in Pasadena as they arrived to accompany nearly 45 pounds of cocaine, over 13 pounds of methamphetamine, and cash to Las Vegas, WABC reported.
In exchange, the group believed they would be paid $250,000.
"Deputy Collins sold his badge to assist an individual he thought was a drug trafficker," said U. S. Attorney Nicola Hanna said, according to WABC. "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.”
Agents had been investigating Deputy Collins for months, and had recorded him while he discussed “his extensive drug trafficking network, past criminal conduct, and willingness to accept bribes to use his law enforcement status for criminal purposes,” court documents read, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I fix problems,” Deputy Collins told an agent at one point during the undercover investigation. “I make a lot of things go away.”
Court documents indicated that Deputy Collins committed a similar offense in November, 2017, when he agreed to be paid $25,000 in exchange for providing security for what he believed to be six kilograms of methamphetamine, plus marijuana and counterfeit cigarettes, WABC reported.
The undercover agents, who were posing as traffickers, initially questioned the $25,000 price tag Deputy Collins put on his security services, but he quickly set their minds at ease, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We’re cops,” Deputy Collins explained. “We deal with a lot of, you know, kind of high-end clients, and $25,000, they’re like, you know, it’s like as long as you can make sure my shipment gets from here to there, that’s fine. … They make profits in upwards of $5 million on certain, certain transports.”
He went on to brag that he and two other men once went so far as to set an $85,000 vehicle on fire for a client.
In yet another occasion, Deputy Collins sold two pounds of marijuana to an undercover agent in exchange for $6,000, and told the agent he could provide him with $4 million worth of the drug every month.
According to WABC, Deputy Collins arranged the lucrative Pasadena deal with an undercover agent on Jan. 5.
The undercover agent originally offered Deputy Collins $75,000 for his role in the transport, but the deputy upped the ante, KTLA reported.
“During negotiations, Collins said he would bring a larger team than used during the November transport, and those additional members would include other law enforcement officers,” state officials said in a news release, according to KTLA.
No other officers are reported to have been involved.
Along with Deputy Collins, investigators arrested 51-year-old David Easter, 34-year-old Grant Valencia, and 56-year-old Maurice Desi Font, WABC reported.
Deputy Collins worked as a life-skills instructor for former inmates at the Emerging Leaders Academy, and Valencia attended the program when the deputy was teaching there, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Deputy Collins was hired by the LACSO in 2002, He has been placed on administrative leave, a department spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times.
According to KTLA, the four men were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and will appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon.
They face a maximum of life in prison if convicted.