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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Border Patrolman Nailed as a Smuggler

SAN DIEGO (CN) - A federal jury Friday convicted a veteran Border Patrol officer of conspiring to let tons of drugs and smuggled people through the border for a decade.

Lorne Jones, 50, of Chula Vista, was convicted of conspiracy to engage in bribery, drug smuggling and alien smuggling, and attempted importation of marijuana. He will be sentenced on March 24, 2014.

"Jones was on the take for a decade beginning in 2000, first waving cars and vanloads of aliens and drugs through his lane at the San Ysidro port of entry, and eventually graduating to tractor-trailers jammed with marijuana at the commercial port at Otay Mesa," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Jones had worked for the Border Patrol since 1994.

According to trial testimony, Jones had a beeper system to tell smugglers which lane he was working at the border. But in 2002 he was randomly reassigned and a smuggler had to bail out of his van full of drugs in the inspection lane.

"In the second failure a few months later, a van stuffed to the ceiling with 4 tons of marijuana was detected by a roving officer and his dog," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "The van was in Jones' lane, just car lengths away from Jones' booth as he furiously waved other drivers through the lane. The driver and passenger ran from the van, and all the inspectors hurried to help - except Jones.

"'Where was Hammer?' prosecutor W. Mark Conover said during his closing argument. 'Sitting in his booth, paralyzed with fear. His load was caught.'"

That was the largest drug bust ever at the San Ysidro crossing, the U.S. attorney said.

The statement, however, did not say why it took 8 more years for Jones to be charged with anything.

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