Former port officer Johnny G. Acosta was sentenced to eight years in prison three months after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle marijuana and accepting bribes to let loads through.
Acosta, a lifelong resident of Douglas, spent his entire career with CBP at the Douglas Port of Entry, was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson in the Tucson federal district court.
“As a port of entry inspector, Acosta served at the front line of America’s effort to keep illicit drugs from flowing into our country. He broke the public trust by succumbing to greed," U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo said in a news release. "Corrupt officials like Acosta degrade the public’s faith that their government employees will faithfully execute the laws of the United States.
The investigation led to the indictment of Acosta and five other individuals on an array of drug-related charges.
On October 20, 2015, Acosta, who was out on a $50,000 bail, was arrested by the FBI at the International Border in Nogales as he attempted to flee into Mexico to avoid prosecution.
Two of the co-defendants in the case have pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the conspiracy to import marijuana. One of those defendants, Ricardo Peralta-Cuevas, was previously sentenced to 37 months in prison. The other defendant is pending sentencing. A third defendant is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on February 22. The remaining two defendants in the Indictment remain fugitives.
“It’s always difficult when the actions of a single officer stain the honor and integrity of law enforcement officers who choose to put their lives on the line in order to uphold the law," Martin Suarez, acting special agent in charge with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in the release. "Guarding against illegal or unethical behavior is not an option; it’s an obligation we have to the people we serve.”