Home Phoenix Press Releases 2011 HSI Nogales Special Agent Arrested During Federal Corruption Investigation

HSI Nogales Special Agent Arrested During Federal Corruption Investigation

U.S. Attorney’s Office June 15, 2011
  • District of Arizona (602) 514-7500

TUCSON, AZ—Federal authorities arrested a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on Tuesday after an investigation revealed she illegally accessed, stole and transferred sensitive U.S. government documents to family members and associates with strong ties to drug trafficking organizations.

Jovana Samaniego Deas, 33, of Rio Rico, Ariz. is charged with computer fraud, theft of government records and making false statements/entries in a 12-count federal indictment issued on April 28 by the U.S. District Court in Tucson. She is accused of abusing her position as an HSI special agent to illegally obtain and disseminate government documents classified as Official Use Only. Three of the counts include felony violations, each punishable by up to five years in prison.

“When it comes to our national security, blood is not thicker than water,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “This defendant used and abused her position as a special agent to illegally help family members south of the border with ties to drug trafficking organizations. That is a violation of the public’s trust and a breach of our security that, thanks to this very thorough joint investigation, will have serious consequences.”

Terri Tollefson, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility West added, “We hold our employees to the highest standards of professional and personal integrity. Guarding against illegal or unethical behavior is not an option; it is an obligation we have to the American people we serve. We will not tolerate criminal misconduct, especially acts involving public corruption, and will hold our employees accountable for betraying the public’s trust.”

Deas made her initial appearance on Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco and was released on bond.

Deas became a U.S. government employee in June 2003 as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at a Nogales, Ariz., port of entry. In 2008, she became a special agent at the HSI Nogales office.

An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The two-year investigation of Deas was conducted by FBI and ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) agents at the FBI’s Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force (SACTF). SACTF agents were assisted in this investigation by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, HSI, the U.S. State Department’s Consular Integrity Division and the Brazilian Federal Police. The prosecution of Deas is being handled by James T. Lacey, an assistant U.S. attorney in Tucson.

CASE NUMBER: CR-11-1572-TUC
RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-115(Deas)

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