Former U.S. Customs officer caught accepting bribes from drug traffickers to be sentenced

Packages containing almost 100 pounds of cocaine were seized at the Hidalgo International Bridge on the US-Mexico border. (US Customs and Border Protection)

TIJUANA, BAJA CALIFORNIA.- A former U.S. Customs officer has been convicted of accepting bribes to let drug-filled vehicles into the United States from Mexico, giving traffickers a one-hour window to reach his lane at a San Diego border crossing and pocketing at least $13,000 per vehicle, officials said on Thursday, June 13th.

Prosecutors say Leonard Darnell George, a Customs and Border Protection officer working for two separate criminal organizations, allowed at least 19 crossings between late 2021 and June 2022. The vehicles contained several hundred pounds of methamphetamine as well as smaller amounts of cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin, and also people being brought into the country illegally, according to court documents.

Text messages obtained by investigators showed George agreed to let cars through for $17,000 per vehicle, and one message showed he received $68,000 after letting through four vehicles from drug traffickers in June 2022, the news release said.

George’s attorney, Antonio Yoon, did not immediately respond to emails and voicemails seeking comment.

George was convicted by a federal jury in U.S. District Court in San Diego on Monday, June of taking a bribe by a public official, conspiracy to import controlled substances, and two counts of allowing vehicles with unauthorized individuals to enter the country.

“Abandoning the integrity of the uniform for the conspiracy of drug trafficking is a path to a criminal conviction,” said U.S. Attorney Tara K. McGrath in a statement.

Witnesses testified that George used the money to buy vehicles, motorcycles, and jewelry, and also spent lavishly at a strip club in Tijuana, the news release said.

His sentencing hearing is set for Sept. 13. The maximum penalty for his charges ranges from 10 years to life in prison.

Source: OEM

Baja California Post