ICE officer ordered held in Arizona pot case
Oct. 25, 2011 04:58 PM
Associated Press

A federal deportation officer accused of leading authorities on a desert chase as he threw bundles of marijuana out of the window was ordered Tuesday to remain behind bars as his case proceeds through court.

Federal magistrate Edward Voss ruled at a Tuesday hearing in Phoenix that Jason Alistair Lowery, 34, is a flight risk and a danger to the community, and should remain imprisoned.

A photo provided by the Pinal County Sheriff's Office shows Jason Alistair Lowery.

Lowery, a deportation officer with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, pleaded not guilty to three drug and weapon charges at the hearing.

Lowery was under surveillance by state police and federal agents last week when authorities say that he picked up a load of marijuana in his government-issued truck during a sting operation. Lowery then led officers on a 45-minute chase at speeds of up to 110 mph that ended when his truck rolled just south of Sacaton, about 40 miles outside of Phoenix.

In a criminal complaint filed last week against Lowery, a former Border Patrol agent, a Department of Homeland Security investigator wrote that a confidential informant told him that Lowery was part of a "rip" crew in which he used his status in law enforcement to help steal marijuana from illegal immigrants.

The informant agreed to call Lowery and arrange for him to pick up 500 pounds (226 kilograms) of pot in the desert on Oct. 18, which is how authorities were able to follow him and begin to make their case, wrote Brian Gamberg-Bonilla, a special agent with the DPS's Office of Investigations.

Lowery's attorney, Rebecca Felmly, declined to comment Tuesday.

Voss set Lowery's trial date for Dec. 6. If convicted of all counts, Lowery faces between 10 years and life in prison.

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