Grand Jury Indicts CBP Officer for Smuggling Cash, Guns

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer based at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was arrested and charged along with 13 others for alleged drug trafficking in a large-scale investigation in which five search warrants were executed at locations around metro Atlanta.

According to a Dec. 21 release, the investigation, co-named "Operation Rude Beast," was conducted by a drug enforcement task force and included U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Delta Air Lines Corporate Security also assisted.

"Today's indictment reflects the outstanding law enforcement cooperation in this case that unmasked the illicit acts of a CBP officer," said David P. D'Amato, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility for the Southeast. "The law enforcement community here in Atlanta and around the country is committed to weeding out those whose acts tarnish the image of the many officers and agents who work tirelessly to keep our communities and country safe."

"The indictment charges a Customs and Border Protection agent at the airport with taking payoffs to smuggle guns and drug money from undercover agents posing as international drug traffickers," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "That investigation led to unraveling a large-scale ecstasy trafficking organization and the seizure of over $2.8 million worth of ecstasy from a house in Chamblee─ one of the largest seizures in the country."

A federal grand jury returned three indictments related to Operation Rude Beast:

  • Devon Samuels, 45, a CBP officer, of Stockbridge, Ga.; Mark Tomlinson, 36, of Stone Mountain, Ga.; and Keisha Jones, 30, a Delta employee, of Stockbridge were charged with conspiring to launder drug money, bulk cash smuggling, and attempting to bring weapons onto an aircraft.
  • Thirteen individuals were charged with related offenses, including conspiracy to traffic MDMA (ecstasy) and marijuana, and firearms violations.
  • Samuels and two other individuals were charged with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and making false statements on immigration documents. The two individuals were Carlton Ferguson, 35, and Dahlia McLaren, 29, both of Decatur.

According to the charges and other information presented in court, in November 2010, Samuels, a CBP officer, was charged in connection with three undercover sting operations to smuggle alleged drug money and guns through Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.

On Nov. 3, an undercover officer, posing as a drug money launderer, gave Samuels about $22,000 in money represented to be from the sale of drugs. With the alleged assistance of his associate, Tomlinson, and by unlawfully utilizing 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.

Samuels is charged with accepting $50,000 on Nov. 19, in alleged drug money from another undercover officer. Samuels and Keisha Jones (his wife and a Delta Air Lines employee) then traveled from Atlanta to Jamaica, where Samuels and Jones delivered the money to Jamaican undercover police officers. The indictment alleges that while in Atlanta's airport, Samuels unlawfully used his badge to bypass security and avoid being screened.

Samuels is charged with accepting five firearms and about $20,000 in alleged drug money from an undercover police officer on Nov. 30. Samuels went directly to the airport with the firearms and money and unlawfully used his badge to bypass security again, smuggling the money and guns into the airport. Once inside the airport, Samuels allegedly gave the firearms and money to a second undercover officer who told Samuels that he was going to transport the firearms and money to Arizona for a meeting with members of a Mexican drug cartel.

The indictment also alleges that on several occasions, Samuels unlawfully used his access to government computers to determine whether he or his associates were under federal investigation. Samuels allegedly ran a computer check on an individual involved in a separate drug investigation named Jerome Bushay.

In a related investigation beginning around February 2010, federal law enforcement officers began investigating a specific MDMA (ecstasy) and marijuana drug trafficking organization operating in the metro Atlanta area and elsewhere.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey W. Davis, Cassandra Schansman, L. Skye Davis, and Michael J. Brown are prosecuting the case.

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