US Immigration Officer Arrested In Pot Smuggling Case

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PHOENIX – A deportation officer with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement led Arizona state police and federal agents on a high-speed desert chase in his government vehicle, throwing bundles of marijuana out of the window as he fled, the Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.

The deportation officer, identified as Jason Alistair Lowery, 34, had been under surveillance for more than month after a known smuggler who had been arrested gave authorities a tip about the officer in an effort to get lenient treatment, Department of Public Safety Officer Carrick Cook told The Associated Press. Lowery, who lives in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, does not yet have an attorney.

DPS and federal agents tried to pull Lowery over Tuesday after he picked up a load of marijuana in the desert with his unmarked ICE pickup truck, Cook said. The officer fled, leading agents on a 45-minute chase at speeds of up to 110 mph (177 kph) as he threw 10 of the 14 bundles of pot that he had in the truck out of the window, he said.

“He got pretty desperate,” Cook said.

The chase began in the Vekol Valley south of Phoenix and ended about 20 miles (32 kilometres) from where the chase began. It ended when Lowery’s truck rolled over and he gave himself up.

Mexican drug cartels have infiltrated federal law enforcement agencies along the border for years, targeting hiring initiatives with their own people or seeking out recruiting officers.