Federal agent Jesus Arellano was exercising in a park in Douglas when his supervisors approached him and said the FBI had a warrant for his arrest.
The supervisors agreed to follow Arellano, then a 51-year-old special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, back to his house so he could change out of his shorts.
Instead, Arellano got into his car and sped away. He lost the HSI agents who were following him, grabbed a handgun and several ammunition magazines from his house, walked out the back door and headed into the desert.
Minutes later, he contacted dispatchers and said his body would be found at the GPS coordinates he provided, a Border Patrol agent who worked with the FBI on the Aug. 18, 2016, arrest testified the next day in federal court in Tucson.
Arellano turned off his phone and walked through a wash to avoid detection by FBI agents, HSI agents, Cochise County sheriff’s deputies, and a helicopter and drone flying overhead.
After a two-hour standoff with Arellano hiding behind a tree several miles from his house, law enforcement officers who knew Arellano talked him into surrendering. He was arrested without any injuries or shots fired, the Border Patrol agent testified.
The charge that led to the arrest was relatively minor, but a year later Arellano faced an 11-page federal grand jury indictment detailing an alleged scheme to funnel thousands of dollars in confidential informant payments to someone with whom he had a personal relationship, as well as running unauthorized criminal background checks and filing false reports.
The goal of the scheme was to “advance his career and raise his stature in the law enforcement community without revealing his personal relationship with (name redacted), an individual not defendant Arellano’s wife,” according to the indictment.
The criminal charge that led to the August 2016 standoff came after FBI agents showed Arellano photos of unauthorized people entering his government-owned vehicle, including Arellano driving his son home from high school in Douglas.
Months earlier, Arellano denied letting unauthorized people enter the vehicle. After being confronted with the photos, Arellano admitted he had done so regularly for two years, according to a criminal complaint alleging he lied to the FBI that was filed Aug. 17, 2016, the day before the standoff.
More serious charges emerged in August 2017 when Arellano was indicted on four counts of wire fraud, two counts of theft, one count of unauthorized access, three counts of making a false report, and one count of making a false statement.
For five years, Arellano ran a scheme to defraud the Department of Homeland Security of money intended for confidential informants, according to the indictment.
Arellano’s friend, who was not identified in the indictment, gave Arellano information about illegal activity, which Arellano used to initiate searches and seizures. Arellano would then attribute that information to a confidential informant recognized by HSI, according to the indictment.
By using the informant already known to HSI, Arellano avoided having his friend undergo mandatory criminal history checks for informants.
He also avoided revealing their relationship, according to the indictment.
In March 2012 and March 2013, Arellano asked HSI for a total of $18,000 in cash payments for the informant, even though the information actually was provided by Arellano’s friend.
HSI approved $13,000 in cash payments and Arellano arranged to have the money given to the informant, who kept several hundred dollars each time and gave the rest to Arellano’s friend.
On two occasions in 2015, Arellano made false reports about the source of “derogatory criminal information” of unnamed persons, according to the indictment.
In September 2015, Arellano ran “using multiple variations, the name of the individual who was engaged to (redacted)” through a criminal database “for his personal benefit.”
Arellano was released from custody five days after his arrest, with the condition that he not possess a firearm, court records show.
His trial date was postponed six times.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Marquez set a firm trial date of Feb. 5, 2019.
Defense attorney Sean Chapman declined to comment on the case.
At the hearing the day after Arellano’s arrest, federal prosecutor Gordon Davenport mentioned Arellano “lost his job,” but it was unclear whether he was referring to a suspension or termination.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the parent agency of HSI, declined to provide information on Arellano’s status with the agency.