PHOENIX — A deportation officer with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement led Arizona state police and federal agents on a high-speed desert chase in his government vehicle, throwing bundles of marijuana out of the window as he fled, the Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.
The deportation officer, identified as Jason Alistair Lowery, 34, had been under surveillance for more than month after a known smuggler who had been arrested gave authorities a tip about the officer in an effort to get lenient treatment, Department of Public Safety Officer Carrick Cook told The Associated Press.
Lowery does not yet have an attorney.
DPS and federal agents tried to pull Lowery over Tuesday after he picked up a load of marijuana in the desert with his unmarked ICE pickup truck, Cook said.
The officer fled, leading agents on a 45-minute chase at speeds of up to 110 mph (177 kph) as he threw 10 of the 14 bundles of pot that he had in the truck out of the window, he said.
“He got pretty desperate,” Cook said.
The chase began in the Vekol Valley south of Phoenix about 20 miles (30 kilometres) away when Lowery’s truck rolled over and he gave himself up.
DPS believes Lowery was taking the marijuana to a man working for a drug cartel whose house served as the nexus of the drug distribution.
Lowery was booked on charges of smuggling and felony flight. The sheriff’s office also booked the man who was to receive the marijuana, identified as 33-year-old Joshua Duane Powell.