Ex-CBP Officer Convicted of Pocketing Bribes to Allow Drug-Laden Cars to Cross Border

By Steve Neavling

A former CBP officer has been convicted of accepting bribes to allow vehicles carrying drugs to pass through the border into the U.S., the Justice Department announced.  

Leonard Darnell George was found guilty by a jury Monday. 

According to prosecutors and witnesses, George pocketed up to $17,000 per vehicle that he allowed to pass through his lane at the border in Southern California. The cars were carrying fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. 

“With this verdict, the jury sent a clear message to anyone considering trading in their badge for cash,” U.S. Attorney Tara K. McGrath said. “Abandoning the integrity of the uniform for the conspiracy of drug trafficking is a path to a criminal conviction.”

On the same day he accepted a $13,000 bribe in late 2021, he purchased a 2020 Cadillac CT5 for a person connected to a drug trafficking group as a gift. 

Over the next six months, George allowed numerous cars laden with drugs to pass through his lane. He omitted passengers and the true identities of the drivers, prosecutors said. 

A text message showed that George received $68,000 for allowing four cars from one drug organization to pass through his lane in June 2022. 

During the six-month period, authorities identified about 19 crossings associated with criminal organizations. 

“As persons in positions of public trust, we are relied upon to serve and protect the American people,” said Stacey Moy, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office. “We also rely on each other to uphold that sacred oath. Should that oath be violated, the FBI and it’s law enforcement partners remain steadfast in our pursuit of justice, even if it means holding ourselves accountable.”

CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (ORP), which assisted in the investigation, said it will “not tolerate misconduct within its ranks.” 

“The Office of Professional Responsibility’s efforts in this case and this latest court decision are a testament to CBP’s commitment to preserving the honor of its overwhelmingly professional workforce, and to its core values of vigilance, integrity, and service to country,” Elizabeth Cervantes, special agent in charge of the OPR, said. 

George is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 13. The most serious charge – receiving a bribe by a public official – carries a maximum of 15 years in prison. 

The case was investigated by the FBI, DHS OIG, HSI, CBP, and DEA. 

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