Former Border Patrol agent sentenced for trafficking, smuggling sea cucumber

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A former U.S. Border Patrol Agent is headed to federal prison for conspiring to distribute a substance used to make fentanyl, as well as smuggling a protected species of sea cucumber into the United States, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said today.

Cesar Daleo, 49, of Chula Vista, was sentenced to 30 months in custody Thursday for conspiracy to distribute 4ANPP, the primary ingredient for manufacturing fentanyl, according to prosecutors. He was also sentenced Thursday to 24 months for conspiracy to smuggle a dried sea cucumber called Isostichopus fuscus across the border on at least 80 separate occasions over a two-year period. The sentences will be served concurrently.

According to prosecutors, on Aug. 11, 2017, a package from China containing 4ANPP was headed for a San Ysidro post office, but was intercepted by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent at Los Angeles International Airport. Prosecutors say Homeland Security Investigations agents replaced the 4ANPP with “a harmless substance.”

On Aug. 29, 2017, Daleo was caught picking up the package in San Ysidro. Prosecutors say Daleo was arrested trying to drive into Mexico with the parcel.

Daleo also paid another person to smuggle the dried sea cucumber — in amounts valued in excess of $250,000 — into the United States from Mexico between the fall of 2014 and the fall of 2016, according to prosecutors, who said the cucumber is “the only species of sea cucumber found in Mexico that is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.”

U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said it was “a fitting sentence for a former law enforcement agent who knew the dangers of drugs like fentanyl, yet did not hesitate to hand them out, for a price. Now it is he who will pay a price for distributing a drug that destroys lives, families and communities.”

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