Jason Alistair Lowery, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer who was busted in a marijuana smuggling sting last week -- and then led authorities on a high-speed chase through the desert while throwing bundles of weed out of his ICE-owned vehicle -- is to be held without bail, a federal magistrate ruled today.
Federal magistrate Edward Voss made the ruling this morning, after determining that Lowery is a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Carrick Cook explained the sting to New Times last week. He says DPS had been monitoring Lowery for several weeks after a known smuggler tipped off authorities that he was working with a law enforcement official.
"Initially, we kind of dismissed [the smuggler's claims]," Cook says. "Independent sources found out later that the information was credible."
Cook says that after monitoring Lowery for several weeks, authorities stashed 23 bundles of weed in the desert in the Vekol Valley, about 45 minutes South of Phoenix. Officers watched as Lowery loaded 14 of the 23 bundles into his government-owned vehicle and took off.
Cook wouldn't say how Lowery knew the weed would be there, but says the information was disseminated through the proper channels.
When police attempted to pull him over, Lowery stopped briefly before taking off into the desert, Cook says.
The chase reached speeds of up to 110 miles per hour, and Lowery was seen throwing 10 of the 14 bails of marijuana out of the vehicle as he attempted to evade law enforcement.
The chase came to an end when Lowery flipped the vehicle he was driving, and surrendered to police.
Authorities believe Lowery was taking the weed to the home of 33-year-old Joshua Duane Powell, of Arizona City, who is currently out on bail for other felony charges. According to Cook, Powell already faces "decades in prison" for his previous crimes.
According to DPS documents first obtained by the Associated Press, Powell was previously arrested after a separate investigation last month turned up multiple bulletproof vests, weapons, stolen night-vision equipment, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and various drugs inside his home.
According to document, "since [Powell's] release only a few weeks ago, he has amassed a small arsenal of weapons and has proven to continue involvement in the illicit drug trade."
When police searched Powell's home yesterday, they found 14 rifles and guns in the trunk of his car, seven of which had been reported stolen.
Lowery was booked into Pima County jail on charges of smuggling and felony flight. Powell was also booked into jail on similar charges.
ICE spokesman Vinnie Picard issued a statement about Lowery's arrest, saying "ICE is cooperating with federal and state authorities in this matter. We hold our officers and agents to the highest levels of responsibility and are committed to supporting the agencies investigating this incident."
Lowery's pleaded not guilty to all charges..
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