An airport-based agent with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Atlanta, Georgia, believed he was shipping drug money and illegal guns to Mexican cartel members in Arizona, officials said Thursday.
Agent Devon Samuels, 45, was among 13 people arrested today on suspicion of a multitude of crimes, including taking payoffs from -- and providing guns and cash to -- people he thought were international drug dealers. A side investigation into a major drug ring resulted in a near-record-breaking seizure of an estimated $2.8 million in Ecstasy, according to a news release from the office of the U.S. Attorney in Georgia, Sally Qullian Yates.
Samuels, who also goes by "Smokey," believed he was meeting with lackeys from drug cartels three times in November, but his contacts were really undercover officers. Here's what Yates' office said about the Arizona angle:
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Samuels is charged with accepting five firearms and approximately $20,000 in alleged drug money from an undercover police officer on Nov. 30, 2010. Samuels went directly to [Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson 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.
On two other occasions earlier in November, authorities say, Samuels took $72,000 in make-believe drug proceeds through the airport to Jamaica, where he handed it over to people he thought were drug-gang affiliates.
Samuels' wife, Keisha "Platinum" Jones, a Delta Airlines employee, went on one of the Jamaica trips, officials said. She was also arrested.
In his spare time, Samuels is said to have used federal computers to check if his buddies were under investigation, and one of those people, Jerome "Romey" Bushay, was linked to the alleged Ectasy-and-pot ring. More than 700,000 tabs of Ecstasy were seized in the investigation, known as "Operation Rude Beast."