Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to Eight Years for Marijuana Trafficking
March 13 (Phoenix, AZ ) — On March 12, 2012, Michael Angelo Atondo, 35, of Yuma, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton to eight years in federal prison, to be followed by a five-year term of supervised release. Atondo was found guilty by a federal jury on Oct. 12, 2011, of Conspiracy to Import 100 kg or more of Marijuana, Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 100 kg or more of Marijuana, and Possession with Intent to Distribute 100 kg or more of Marijuana.
“This case demonstrates that the United States Attorney’s Office will vigorously prosecute drug traffickers, regardless of their station in life” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. “I would like to thank the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Border Patrol for their investigation of this case. I would also like to thank all of the men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to keep our borders safe. The fact that Atondo committed this crime while he was a sworn law enforcement agent should in no way harm the reputation of our nation’s honest and hardworking law enforcement agents.”
The evidence at trial showed that on April 4, 2011, Atondo, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent assigned to the Wellton substation, conspired with others to import approximately 339 kilograms, or 745 pounds, of marijuana into the United States from Mexico. When fellow agents responded to a sensor alert, they found four vehicles at the international boundary line, three of them on the south side of the fence and Atondo’s department-issued vehicle backed up to the fence on the north side, with the rear door open. A subsequent search of Atondo’s Border Patrol truck revealed 44 neatly stacked bundles of marijuana. The marijuana had a wholesale value of approximately $400,000.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the U.S. Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The prosecution is being handled by Howard D. Sukenic and Christina Wu Covault, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
# # #