Federal Officer Arrested For Marijuana Smuggling After Chase


Pinal County Sheriff’s Office
This photo provided by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office shows Jason Alistair Lowery. Lowery, a deportation officer with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is accused of leading police on a high-speed chase in the Arizona desert while dumping bales of marijuana out the window of his government vehicle.

​It was one of those Kodak moments when you just wish you could’ve been there.

A deportation officer with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement led Arizona state police and federal agents on a high-speed desert chase in his government vehicle, all the while chunking bundles of marijuana out the window as he fled, reports Amanda Lee Myers of the Associated Press.
They’d been watching the officer, Jason Alistair Lowery, 34, for more than a month after a known smuggler who had been busted gave authorities a tip about Lowery in an effort to get lenient treatment, Department of Public Safety Officer Carrick Cook told the AP.
DPS and federal agents tried to pull Lowery over on Tuesday after he picked up a load of marijuana in the desert in his unmarked ICE pickup truck, according to Cook. The officer made a run for it instead, leading agents on a 45-minute chase at speeds up to 110 miles per hour as he threw 10 of the 14 bundles of cannabis he had in the truck out the window.
“He got pretty desperate,” said Captain Obvious, I mean Officer Cook.

The chase started at Lowery’s marijuana pick-up point in the Vekol Valley, about 45 miles south of Phoenix, and ended just of Sacaton, about 20 miles northwest from where the chase began. It ended when Lowery rolled his pickup and then gave himself up.

Pinal County Sheriff’s Office
Is that a tear in his eye? Joshua Duane Powell is accused of being involved with drug smugglers and Jason Alistair Lowery, a deportation officer with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Lowery is accused of leading police on a high-speed chase in the Arizona desert while dumping bales of marijuana out of his government vehicle. Authorities say the marijuana was to be delivered to Powell’s home.

​Lowery was going to take the marijuana to a man working for a drug cartel whose house served as a marijuana distribution center, according to DPS.
The officer, who used to be a Border Patrol agent, was booked into Pinal County Jail and charged with smuggling and felony flight, and was turned over to ICE custody on Wednesday morning.
In a criminal complaint filed against Lowery late Wednesday, a Department of Homeland Security investigator wrote that he got more information about Lowery through an informant on October 4.
The confidential informant said that he or she was involved with Lowery and another man in a “rip crew” in which Lowery used his status in law enforcement to steal marijuana fro illegal immigrants, according to Brian Gamberg-Bonilla, a special agent with the DPS’s Office of Investigations.
The informant agreed to call Lowery and arrange for him to pick up 500 pounds of marijuana in the desert on Tuesday, which is how the cops were able to follow him, according to Gamberg-Bonilla.
The sheriff’s office also arrested the man who they said was to receive the marijuana, Joshua Duane Powell, 33, of Arizona City.
Police found 14 rifles and guns in the trunk of Powell’s car, parked at his home. Seven of the guns had been reported stolen, according to the DPS.
Powell had been out on a $25,000 bond from a separate investigation last month in which bulletproof vests, weapons, stolen night-vision equipment, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and “various drugs” were found in his home, DPS claimed.
“Since his release only a few weeks ago, (Powell) has amassed a small arsenal of weapons and has proven to continue involvement in the illicit drug trade,” a DPS document said.
ICE spokesman Vinnie Picard said Lowery had worked for the agency since August 2008, but wouldn’t provide any other details about him or the case.
“ICE is cooperating with federal and state authorities in this matter,” Picard said in a prepared statement. “We hold our officers and agents to the highest levels of responsibility and are committed to supporting the agencies investigating this incident.”
Between 2003 and early 2010, 129 U.S. customs officers and Border Patrol agents were arrested on corruption charges, according to Tom Frost, the Department of Homeland Security’s assistant inspector general for investigations.
“This is becoming all too common, in my opinion,” said Jim Dorcy, a retired Border Patrol agent who later investigated corruption among agents for the Justice Department.
Any corruption in a police agency — let alone dozens of cases — destroys the public’s confidence, Dorcy said.
It all comes down to greed, according to Dorcy. “They just want to make more money than the job offers, and they get offered a very tempting amount of money,” he said.