ICE Agent Accused of Leaking Sensitive Information to Family Members With Ties to Drug Cartels

A Nogales-based Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent was arrested yesterday for allegedly handing over sensitive government documents to family members with "strong" ties to drug cartels.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Jovana Samaniego Deas, 33, a special agent with the agency's Homeland Security Investigations unit, illegally accessed, stole, and transferred sensitive U.S. government documents to family members with known ties to the cartels.

The documents Deas allegedly stole, authorities say, are classified as Official Use Only.

"When it comes to our national security, blood is not thicker than water," U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke says in a statement. "This defendant used and abused her position as a special agent to illegally help family members south of the border with ties to drug-trafficking organizations. That is a violation of the public's trust and a breach of our security that, thanks to this very thorough joint investigation, will have serious consequences."

Terri Tollefson, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility West, adds, "We hold our employees to the highest standards of professional and personal integrity. Guarding against illegal or unethical behavior is not an option; it is an obligation we have to the American people we serve. We will not tolerate criminal misconduct, especially acts involving public corruption, and will hold our employees accountable for betraying the public's trust."

Deas had been an employee of the U.S. government since 2003. She started her career as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer in Nogales, and by 2008, became a special agent at the HSI Nogales office.

In all, Deas is charged with computer fraud, theft of government records, and making false statements/entries.

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