Federal Anti-Corruption Task Force Spent Thousands on Strippers, Drugs

Customs and Border Protection agent Lauro Tobias was arrested by a Federal “anti-corruption” task force last year in March on money-laundering and other corruption charges. Apparently, he flew from Arizona to Las Vegas to provide security for a drug deal where six kilos of cocaine were exchanged for $100,000.

Tobias, who has been with the CBP for 10 years and had also served in the Air Force for 20, was paid $4,000 for the job. According to court documents, Tobias didn’t realize that he was going to be providing security for a drug deal. He said that he was assured it would be for a legal operation.

As it turns out, the drug deal itself was fake. It was a sting operation of sorts, comprised of federal agents trying to trip up Tobias. It was part of a much larger operation carried out by a federal task force aimed at “rooting out” corruption in the CBP. The task force is made of agents from the FBI, the Border Patrol, the DOJ, and even the IRS.

Part of their “anti-corruption” operations required that they frequent “adult entertainment” bars and attend a boxing match at the MGM Grand in Vegas. BuzzFeed reported:

According to documents filed with the court, Tobias claimed the federal task force put the fake drug deal into play, as well as supplying the money, drugs, and agents for the various parts in the alleged conspiracy.

Both the defense and prosecutors asked for a dismissal, which U.S. District Court Judge Cindy Jorgenson granted Monday with prejudice, just over 14 months after the FBI announced Tobias’ arrest.

Tobias’ attorney, Steven West, argued in an interview with BuzzFeed that federal agents tried to turn Tobias bad in order to use him as mole in the border station. “They couldn’t get close to the so-called ‘suspect corrupt people,’” he said. “I think they took a 90-degree turn.”

[…]

The Justice Department had made clear it was unwilling to provide even basic details of the investigation to the defense during pre-trial hearings.

For instance, according to a court motion filed by Tobias’ attorney, department officials would not release certain information about the investigation during discovery, including “an accounting of how much money was spent on this operation by the government … on hotel rooms, air fare, frequenting adult entertainment establishments, rental car costs, restaurant bills, and any other ‘perks’ that were used to implement the operation, such as the Pacquiao fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.” In another example, prosecutors were unwilling to even tell West — the defendant’s attorney — the code name of the investigation.

Both Tobias’s attorney and the Department of Justice called for dismissal of the case, which the judge granted. The DOJ doesn’t want to talk about the investigation, and they won’t even provide basic details about the operation. Sort of makes you wonder what it is that they want hidden so much.