A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with operating a large-scale drug trafficking scheme. Deputy Kenneth Collins and three other men were arrested by FBI agents in a sting operation when they arrived to what they thought was a drug deal, according to records unsealed after the arrest.
Court documents outlining the case show that Collins, 50, has been under investigation for months. He was recorded by agents discussing “his extensive drug trafficking network, past criminal conduct, and willingness to accept bribes to use his law enforcement status for criminal purposes,” according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
Last year, an undercover agent met with Collins while posing as the relative of a wealthy investor looking to finance an illegal marijuana grow house. Collins offered to provide security and said he had three teams already working in the region, including one that was protecting an illegal marijuana grow house disguised as an auto repair shop, according to the complaint.
At a second meeting, Collins showed off his sheriff’s badge and lifted his shirt to show a gun in his waistband, the complaint said. He later said that he could provide teams of security made up of cops who “travel … with guns”. Collins sold about 2 pounds of marijuana to the agent for $6,000 as a “test run” to demonstrate his ability to arrange and carry out deals, federal authorities allege. The deputy said he had connections to marijuana operations in Northern California and could sell the agent $4 million of marijuana each month, according to the court records.
Undercover agents hired Collins to provide security while they drove several pounds of methamphetamine and other contraband from Pasadena to Las Vegas, the court records said. On the drive to Las Vegas, one of the other men charged in the case, David Easter, drove a lookout car while another, Grant Valencia, rode with the undercover agent in the vehicle with the drugs, according to court records. Collins rode in a third car keeping watch from behind.
In the complaint, agents said that Collins, Easter and Valencia had agreed to provide security for a large drug transaction at an events venue in Pasadena in exchange for $250,000. Collins and his team were p to help oversee the transport of a large cache of drugs and cash. Collins said he had a team of six men, including three other law enforcement officers, who could ensure the cargo made it to its destination “untouched, unscathed,” the document says.
According to court documents, after a Dec. 11th meeting to plan the transport, Collins called another L.A. County sheriff’s deputy to discuss the deal, according to the complaint. Thom Mrozek, a U.S. attorney’s office spokesman, said that the investigation is continuing but that no other law enforcement officers had been implicated so far.