Federal ICE agent busted for smuggling after high speed chase
An earlier KGUN9 News story had captured Lowery in action
Investigators say ICE Agent Jason Lowery picked up a large load of marijuana, then led them on a long chase. Video by kgun9.comvideo
ICE agent Jason Lowery, shown far left, takes part in an ICE raid as documented last year in a KGUN9 News story
Pinal County sheriff Paul Babeau talks about the dangers of rip crews in an earlier KGUN9 News interview
Pinal deputies conduct anti-smuggling operations in the Vekol Valley
PINAL COUNTY, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - Federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent Jason Alistair Lowery has been arrested on drug smuggling charges. Authorities say the arrest came after Lowery led investigators on a high speed chase, throwing marijana bales out of his vehicle the whole time.
It happened in Pinal County's Vekol Valley -- a major crossroads for drug smugglers on which KGUN9 News has reported extensively in prior stories. Investigators had been tipped someone in law enforcement was working with smugglers.
They set up a sting. The bait was 23 packages of marijuana.
Officers say they watched Jason Lowery load 14 of them in his government truck.
DPS spokesman Officer Carrick Cook said: "He seemed a little suspicious, driving around in circles, getting out of his car looking up to make sure he wasn't being followed by air units or ground units but eventually our SWAT team made a traffic stop on him."
Officer Cook says Lowery did stop but when he saw the SWAT team jump out to take him, the chase was on. "During that pursuit speeds reached 110 miles an hour and he also threw out, was able to throw out ten of the 14 bales of marijuana."
What began at the drug drop at I-8 and Stanfield road, turned into a 45 minute chase that ended when Lowery wrecked his truck near Sacaton.
It was another drug suspect, Joshua Powell, who first led authorities to Lowery. When they arrested Powell about a month ago he said he was moving drugs with the help of someone in law enforcement---but he didn't say who.
Officer Cook: "Our investigators kind of dismissed it, thinking that this is just another far fetched claim to get himself out of trouble."
But when two others sources confirmed Powell's tale of a corrupt cop, Homeland Security, the DEA, DPS and Phoenix police put out the bait that they say snared Lowery.
Then they arrested Powell, who had been out on bond. Investigators think Lowery was trying to deliver the drugs to him.
An ICE spokesman says the agency is cooperating with Federal and state authorities, and that ICE holds it's officers and agents to the highest level of responsibility.
One confidential informant told Department of Homeland Security investigators that Lowery had been working as part of a "rip crew."
For some time now KGUN9 News has been reporting on the problem of rip crews in Pinal County. Rip crews are drug smugglers who pose as police officers, steal drug loads then traffic the drugs themselves.
According to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, rip crews are dangerous and well armed. Here's what he told 9 On Your Side in December. "We know for a fact they carry long guns. They carry semi automatic weapons. A lot of them have prior military training. Some of the highest type level special forces type training and they're military down in Mexico.
About a year ago KGUN 9 News followed Lowery and other ICE agents as they worked on a special team arresting illegal immigrants who had also committed what authorities see as more serious crimes.
Lowery has been an ICE agent for three years. Before that he worked for Border Patrol.