Office of the United States Attorney, Ann Birmingham Scheel
District of Arizona
February 06, 2012
HSI NOGALES SPECIAL AGENT PLEADS GUILTY TO OBSTRUCTION AND OTHER FEDERAL VIOLATIONS
TUCSON, Ariz. – On February 1, 2012, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent Jovana Deas, 33, of Rio Rico, Ariz., entered a guilty plea, before visiting United States Magistrate Judge E.S. Swearingen, to all 21 counts of an indictment.
At the change of plea hearing, Deas admitted to abusing her position as an HSI special agent to illegally obtain and disseminate government documents classified as Official Use Only. Some of the sensitive information Deas unlawfully accessed was later discovered on a laptop computer of her former brother-in-law by law enforcement in Brazil. Her brother-in-law is associated with a drug trafficking organization in Mexico, which has ties to drug traffickers in Brazil. Deas further admitted that she illegally accessed, stole, and transferred sensitive U.S. government documents to unauthorized individuals, and that she obstructed HSI investigations. Deas also admitted that she lied to a HSI Special Agent when asked why she was making computer inquiries about a specific person who was a target of another agent.
Deas’ guilty plea included a total of seven felony violations, each punishable by up to five years in prison, and fourteen misdemeanors, each punishable by up to one year in prison.
Deas became a U.S. government employee in June, 2003, as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer assigned to the Nogales, Ariz. port of entry. In 2008, she became an HSI special agent assigned to the HSI Nogales office.
The indictment to which Deas pleaded guilty also charges her sister, Dana Maria Samaniego Montes, 40, of Agua Prieta, Mexico with violations of federal law. Samaniego Montes is a fugitive believed to be residing in Mexico. She is a former Mexican law enforcement official with alleged ties to drug trafficking organizations.
Deas is scheduled to be sentenced on April 11, 2012, before United States District Court Judge Cindy Jorgenson.
The investigation of Deas was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) agents at the FBI’s Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force (SACTF). SACTF agents were assisted in this investigation by agents from Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Department’s Consular Integrity Division and the Brazilian Federal Police. The prosecution of Deas is being handled by James T. Lacey, an assistant U.S. attorney in Tucson.
CASE NUMBER: CR 11-1572-TUC-CKJ
RELEASE NUMBER: 2012-024(Deas)
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/