CORRUPT FEDERAL OFFICER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR SMUGGLING GUNS AND DRUG MONEY THROUGH THE AIRPORT
June 2, 2011
Defendant and Wife also Sentenced in Marriage Fraud Scheme
ATLANTA, GA - DEVON SAMUELS, 45, of Stockbridge, Georgia, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. to federal prison on charges of conspiring to launder drug money and attempting to smuggle guns onto an airplane. In a separate case, SAMUELS and his wife, KEISHA JONES, 30, also of Stockbridge, Georgia, were sentenced for conspiring to commit marriage fraud.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Mr. Samuels abused his position as a federal customs officer to smuggle guns and drug money through the world’s busiest airport for people he thought were international narcotics traffickers. This significant prison sentence should serve as a stinging reminder that corruption that compromises the safety and security of our borders and our transportation system will not be tolerated.”
SAMUELS was sentenced to 8 years in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. SAMUELS pleaded guilty to the charges on March 17, 2011.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: SAMUELS, a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, was charged in connection with three undercover sting operations with smuggling drug money and guns through Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
On November 3, 2010, an undercover officer, posing as a drug money launderer, gave SAMUELS approximately $25,000 in money represented to be from the sale of drugs. By unlawfully using his badge to bypass security and avoid screening, SAMUELS smuggled the money through Atlanta's airport to Jamaica. Once in Jamaica, SAMUELS delivered the money to a Jamaican undercover police officer who was posing as an international drug trafficker.
On November 19, 2010, SAMUELS accepted over $50,000 in purported drug money from another undercover officer. SAMUELS then traveled from Atlanta to Jamaica, where SAMUELS delivered the money to Jamaican undercover police officers. While in Atlanta's airport, SAMUELS again unlawfully used his badge to bypass security and avoid being screened.
Finally, on November 30, 2010, SAMUELS accepted five firearms and approximately $20,000 in alleged drug money from an undercover police officer. SAMUELS smuggled the firearms and money into the airport by using his badge to bypass security. Once inside the airport, SAMUELS gave the firearms and money to a second undercover officer who had told SAMUELS that she was going to transport the firearms and money to Arizona for a meeting with members of a Mexican drug cartel.
In the marriage fraud scheme, beginning in November 2009, SAMUELS used his knowledge of immigration policies to assist CARLTON FERGUSON, 35, of Decatur, Georgia, and DAHLIA McLAREN, 30, formerly of Decatur, Georgia, to deceive U.S. immigration authorities into believing that FERGUSON and McLAREN's sham marriage was genuine. SAMUELS and JONES (his wife) were paid to falsely complete the immigration paperwork necessary for MCLAREN to obtain United States citizenship through her sham marriage to FERGUSON. SAMUELS, JONES, FERGUSON, and McLAREN have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.
In the marriage fraud case, SAMUELS was sentenced to 5 years in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. JONES was sentenced to 6 months of home confinement, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service. SAMUELS and JONES were convicted of this charge on March 17, 2011 upon their pleas of guilty.
The investigation and prosecution of this case was a coordinated effort through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force which is comprised of Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Professional Responsibility and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG); Anti-Corruption Branch, Jamaican Constabulary Force; DeKalb County Police Department; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Field Operations; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs ( I.N.L.) U. S. State Department; and the United States Marshal Service; with assistance from Delta Air Lines Corporate Security.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey W. Davis and Cassandra Schansman prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.