Tucson Sector Border Patrol agent busted by FBI for smuggling cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl

By Jon Johnson


TUCSON – A Border Patrol agent stationed in Ajo was arrested Sunday and charged with multiple counts of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.  

Carlos Victor Passapera Pinott, 53, of Buckeye, was charged by complaint on Monday with three counts of possession of a narcotic drug for sale and one count of conspiracy to distribute drugs. According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Passapera faces up to life in prison with a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to a $10 million fine.

The charges were the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force, the Homeland Security Investigations, NATIVE Task Force in Sells, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to the release, on Sunday Passapera allegedly left his residence and drove a white, Ford Explorer south to a remote area of the border west of the Lukeville Port of Entry. He then drove to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where he loaded two duffel bags into another vehicle. Law enforcement agents then pulled over the vehicle the duffle bags were loaded into and located about 46 pounds of cocaine, 2.2 pounds of heroin and 2.2 pounds of fentanyl in the bags. The bags also contained 350,000 pills in which a sample tested positive for fentanyl. The driver was taken into custody but has not been named.

Passapera was taken into custody later the same day after agents executed a search warrant at his residence. During the search, agents located $329,000 in cash and an additional $40,000 in the vehicle he used to transport the duffle bags with illegal narcotics.

Passapera appeared in front of United States Magistrate Judge Leslie A. Bowman of the District of Arizona on Monday.

Passapera had worked for the Border Patrol for 10 years. In a statement released Monday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection advised that its members who commit crimes will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“CBP does not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we cooperate fully with all criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel,” the release stated. “Given the pending investigation, all inquiries are being referred to the FBI and USAO Public Affairs.”  

“It is important to note that CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe.”

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