Former customs officer sentenced in pot smuggling conspiracy

SIERRA VISTA — A former customs officer has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison by a federal judge for his role in conspiring with others to smuggle marijuana into the United States.

Luis Carlos Vasquez, 33, of Douglas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge David C. Bury to 151 months in prison on Aug. 19. Vasquez was found guilty by a federal jury in February of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of conspiracy to import marijuana and one count of importation of marijuana, aid and abet, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona.

The release states that evidence at the trial showed that Vasquez used his position as a customs officer to facilitate the transportation of marijuana into the country through the Douglas Port of Entry.

Specifically, his role was to allow pickup trucks loaded with marijuana to pass through the international boundary without inspection on at least two occasions.

More than 1,200 pounds of marijuana was brought into the country in this manner, the release states.

Vasquez was arrested Sept. 23, 2011.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and Office of the Inspector General, and the Douglas Police Department.

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