Arizona ICE special agents violated criminal laws to obtain federal search warrant

Yuma, Arizona - U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) special agents violated criminal laws while obtaining a federal search warrant which resulted with the seizure of 600 pounds of marijuana and no arrests.

In July of 2008, I learned that in September or October 2007, ICE’s supervisory criminal investigator JAY CREED’s group received information from a confidential informant that a large quantity of marijuana was secreted inside a tractor-trailer outside the Yuma city limits, and inside an alfalfa shed or warehouse.

The ICE agents responded to the site and observed that three tractor-trailers were inside the warehouse. The warehouse and tractor trailers were surrounded by a high wired security fence with the entrance door under lock and key. Thus, the owner of the warehouse property had an expectation of his privacy.

The special agents’ initiated a physical and visual surveillance of the warehouse under CREED’s supervision. As standard procedure, it is highly probable that CREED briefed his immediate supervisor, Assistant Special Agent in Charge KEVIN JETER.

When the agents saw that two of the tractor-trailers exited the site, the agents followed the two trailers. Later they stopped the two conveyances and found nothing. CREED and his group of ICE investigators believed that the marijuana was possibly inside the third trailer at the warehouse.

However, CREED decided to take the easy route and instead of continuing their surveillance, CREED authorized and ordered two special agents to jump over the fence (trespassing), at night time (the building site main entrance was locked) and somehow they “welcomed themselves” by looking inside the trailer where they saw numerous bales of marijuana (600 pounds).

CREED left some agents guarding the site while he and other agents returned to the office to prepare a federal search warrant affidavit based on the original information they received from the informant.

An ICE special agent swore as to the truthfulness of the affidavit for a search warrant. The search warrant was signed by U.S. Magistrate Jay Irwin, Yuma, AZ. The warrant was executed and the agents seized 600 pounds of marijuana. No arrests were made and the case was immediately closed.

In my 30 years of public law enforcement, I learned from my first very basic police academy Rule Number 1: never lie to a judge. I personally know federal magistrate Jay Irwin. I also know that when he finds out that an ICE special agent deceived him, judge Irwin will not be a happy camper.

I conducted some Google searches for any press releases posted in the ICE’s website and found NONE regarding this significant seizure. I also searched the Yuma Sun newspaper, which normally reports any significant marijuana seizures and found none. This leads me to believe that JAY CREED’s supervisor KEVIN JETER and his other two group supervisors MICHAEL STROM and KEVIN EVANS and the Arizona SAC, who at the time was ALONZO PENA knew of the illegal entry of the warehouse.

As a former Resident Agent in Charge for an Office of Internal Affairs, U.S. Customs Service, I knew that certain managers and supervisors at the Arizona Legacy U.S. Customs Service’s Offices of Investigations and Internal Affairs condoned corruption.

It is possible that CREED assumed that it was OK to violate criminal law since his former supervisors MIKE STROM and retired Yuma’s Customs Resident Agent in Charge STEVE ARIZAGA invaded my privacy rights when they trespassed into my residence in 2002 and no disciplinary action was taken against them by Customs. In this case, I filed a police report with the Yuma Police Department (YPD). However, the YPD declined prosecution in lieu of Customs taking action against ARIZAGA and STROM. Besides, ARIZAGA and STROM were former YPD police officers and ARIZAGA maintained a good relationship with the YPD’s chief of police.

Another factor that may have influenced CREED is that he probably knew that KEVIN JETER had been the subject of several complaints of discrimination while assigned to the Phoenix, AZ Customs office, and he received no disciplinary action. In fact, one particular discrimination complaint resulted in an out-of-court settlement where ICE ended up paying a large undetermined amount of tax-payers money to an ICE special agent and a victim of JETER’s discriminatory practices. ICE instead of disciplining JETER, decided to promote him to a GS-1811-15, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Yuma, AZ where he continues to discriminate against certain employees at will.

As a trained internal affairs manager, supervisor and investigator, I know that corruption induces more corruption if undetected or condoned. Corruption must be stopped and removed; otherwise it widespread like cancer.

We are fully aware that the process to obtain a federal search warrant is not a simple one. While individual agents have wide latitude to look further into any tips they receive, and must go through their supervisor to open a case, a request for a search warrant still has to pass through several steps.

Based on my years of conducting and managing federal corruption investigations, JAY CREED, et al committed several criminal violations in this particular incident. Some Federal Criminal Statutes that Apply to the JAY CREED’s case:

18 USC 371 – Conspiracy

18 USC 1001 – False Statements

18 USC 1512 - Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant

18 USC 1513 - Retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant

18 USC 1621 – Perjury

18 USC 1622 - Subornation of perjury

18 USC 2235 - Search warrant procured maliciously

An agent must take his suspicions to a supervisor in a written affidavit. The supervisor has to find there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity for a case to be opened. After the case has been reviewed, it then moves to the United States Attorney’s Office where it is further inspected by an Assistant U.S. Attorney to find probable cause to justify a warrant.

Once the AUSA agrees there is probable cause, the case is presented to a United States District Judge, who then decides whether there is enough merit to the case to proceed and issue a search warrant.

The process to obtain a search warrant is a lengthy one designed to protect the rights of those subject to the search. The Fourth Amendment says you have to show probable cause and a specific time and place. It’s not a fishing expedition to see what (an agent) can find. Further, federal criminal investigators are to be held at a very high standard. When we allow our federal law enforcement officers break the law in order to obtain information for the application of a search warrant can bring some very severe consequences to our federal law enforcement system, and an embarrassing to our U.S. government.

Luckily, there were no arrests made in this case. There is a difference between obtaining a search warrant and proving guilt in court. The burden of proof that the government has to show for a warrant is nowhere near the burden of proof in a criminal trial, where the government must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. I have no questions in my mind that JAY CREED and his agents would have committed perjury on the stand if this case would have resulted in a criminal court trial.

CREED has been assigned to assist in the investigation of high profile corruption cases against San Luis, AZ border inspectors, both as a working special agent and as a group supervisor. This should be a grave concern to the Yuma area federal law enforcement community that has utilized CREED in their investigations. Numerous criminal cases where defendants have been convicted on state or federal drug charges can be subjected to appeals.

On September 18, 2008, I contacted Arizona’s ICE Special Agent in Charge (“SAC”) Matthew C. Allen, via Email requesting a telephone interview with him. Mr. Allen never answered. Perhaps, if Mr. Allen would have taken the time to talk to me, this Narco News report would have been avoided. Unfortunately, with the arrival of Mr. Allen as the new Arizona ICE SAC, business continues to be as usual.

I contacted the ICE’s Public Affairs Officer to confirm that a search warrant had been executed resulting with the seizure of 600 pounds of marijuana. I was told that I needed to submit a Freedom of Information (“FOIA”) request. This was a rather unusual request because this information is always available for members of the media.

The Assistant US Attorney who reviewed the affidavit for the search warrant was Mr. Tim Andrews, who now works as an Assistant Yuma City Attorney, Yuma, AZ.

As a licensed Arizona Private Investigator I am required to report any and all criminal violations against the United States.

Everything I know about this matter is written in this Narco News report. My advice to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (“DHS”) Office of Inspector General and ICE’s OPR’s special agents is instead of trying to find out who the source of this story is, which is normally what the above agencies do, is to find out what actually took place and hold any ICE employee accountable for any misconduct.

Who knows, may be CREED gets promoted to GS-1811-15 and JETER to a senior executive position.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been apprised of the above referenced in case the DHS or ICE decides to send their OIG or OPR agents to this writer’s residence to intimidate or harass him, instead of investigating the culprits in this matter. Further, DHS'Secretary-nominee Janet Napolitano is fully aware of the allegations contained in this Narco News report.

On December 13, 2008, I contacted the DHS'OIG to let them know that ICE's OPR investigators had been conducting interviews at the ICE's Office of Investigations in Yuma, AZ and that allegedly the perception among employees at that office was that the OPR investigators seemed more interested in learning who "leaked" the information about the criminal misconduct (trespassing) by group supervisor JAY CREED, than the actual criminal acts allegedly committed by CREED et al.

The U.S. District Court' Office of the Clerk, Phoenix, AZ conducted an extensive manual search for the original returned federal search warrant but none was found. One or two things happened: the warrant was never returned and/or the warrant was lost.

Epilogue: I am not sure if ICE top managers really cares about wrongdoing at ICE because they have been operating as if they are above the law. Regardless what they think, after January 20, 2009, President-elect Barack Obama will become our 44th U.S. President and DHS' Secretary-nominee Janet Napolitano will be undergoing U.S. Senate confirmation hearings.

The double standards used in imposing discipline at ICE is coming to an end. After January 20, 2009, if you are an ICE employee, GS-1811-14 and above and you engage in criminal and/or administrative misconduct you will be investigated and if found responsible, you will be held accountable.

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