Ecstasy- Former CBP officer, wife sentenced to prison

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    Former CBP officer, wife sentenced to prison

    A Customs and Border Protection officer and his wife, both from Yuma, have both been sentenced to federal prison terms.

    Former CBP Officer Henry M. Gauani, 41, and his wife, Flora A. Gauani, 46, were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg in Phoenix to 37 months in federal prison, 200 hours of community service and $8,000 in restitution.

    The couple pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to import Ecstasy, a Schedule 1 controlled substance, in a scheme to allow more than 600,000 fake Ecstasy pills through the U.S. Port of Entry at San Luis, Ariz.

    According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix, the conspiracy in this case was to allow vehicles loaded with controlled substances, specifically methylene-dioxy-meth-amphetamine, aka Ecstasy, to pass through the San Luis port of entry without proper inspection.

    In return, the Gauanis were paid a total of $33,000 in cash.

    During the course of the smuggling, Henry Gauani, acting in his official duty as a CBP officer, arranged with Flora Gauani and a confidential informant to have vehicles loaded with Ecstasy arrive at his lane of inspection at the port of entry.

    Henry Gauani's then would allow the confidential informant’s vehicle to pass through into the U.S. without proper inspection.

    In a joint investigation by federal law enforcement, the Gauanis were arrested Jan. 27 after allowing a shipment of what they believed were 500,000 Ecstasy pills to pass through Henry Gauani’s inspection lane, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

    The sentencing hearing was Monday. The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General and the CBP Office of Internal Affairs.

    Prosecution in the case was conducted by Cassie Bray Woo and Howard Sukenic, assistant U.S. attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

    “As we tighten physical border security, bribery of public officials cannot be an alternative entry point for drug trafficking,” stated Dennis K. Burke, U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona.

    “Public servants are held to a higher standard, and the vast majority are honest and hard-working. Those who fall prey to corruption will see federal prosecution following quickly behind.”

    November 25, 2009 12:19 PM

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