L.A. sheriff’s deputy pleads guilty in cannabis-related corruption case

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A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy recently pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired to protect illegal shipments of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Although the case doesn’t involve any licensed marijuana businesses, the situation again highlights the ongoing problem of corruption in California’s bureaucracy as the state’s newly regulated cannabis industry struggles to find its footing and also deal with issues related to the thriving illicit market.

The sheriff’s deputy, Kenneth Collins, was arrested in January as part of an undercover investigation by the FBI.

Collins had offered to protect a shipment of cocaine and methamphetamine from the L.A. area to Las Vegas for $250,000 and had also raised the possibility of financing a marijuana grow in conversation with an undercover FBI officer, according to Herald Keepers, a San Diego-based digital media company.

Collins also said he had three “teams” in place to oversee such operations in San Bernardino County and L.A. County.

According to the plea agreement, the former deputy also offered to help traffic up to $4 million a month in illicit cannabis and said he had “a connection” that could provide him up to 2,000 pounds of marijuana a month.

Herald Keepers also reported that the L.A. sheriff “said he collaborated extensively in this investigation and assured that it could be an isolated case.”

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 19.