Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Border Patrol agent caught on videotape taking marijuana from a smuggler's truck was indicted by a federal grand jury

Alexis Huicochea:

Michael Carlos Gonzalez of Vail will be arraigned this morning in Tucson on drug charges stemming from the December incident near Sonoita.

Gonzalez was indicted earlier this month on charges of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

It all began Dec. 6, when Arizona Department of Public Safety K-9 Officer Keith Duckett pulled the truck over on Arizona 83, documents show.

The driver and the passenger ran into the desert, abandoning the pickup, which had several bundles of marijuana in the bed, a criminal complaint said.

While Duckett was chasing the two people, Gonzalez, 33, arrived in uniform, including his firearm, driving a marked Border Patrol vehicle, according to the complaint.

A videotape taken by a camera in Duckett's patrol car shows Gonzalez taking a bundle of marijuana, weighing about 23 pounds, from the truck and placing it in his marked vehicle, the complaint said.

Gonzalez then arranged the other bundles in the truck to fill the space left by the bundle he had taken, the complaint said.

Duckett was not aware of what Gonzalez had done until he reviewed the videotape later, documents show. The DPS then contacted the Department of Homeland Security.

A subsequent search of the smuggling truck showed that it carried bundles of marijuana weighing a total of about 670 pounds, the complaint said.

Gonzalez was held after the incident, but was released on a personal-appearance bond during his detention hearing Dec. 29, according to a news release from the Justice Department.

He has since resigned from the Border Patrol, said Gustavo Soto, an agency spokesman.

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