Thursday, April 7, 2011
Border Patrol Agents Arrest One of Their Own
U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Yuma sector are still having a hard time believing that one of their fellow agents was caught trying to smuggle drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border. Kenneth Quillin, supervisory Border Patrol agent, said, "I equate it to like a punch in the stomach. When you first hear about it, you get kind of a sick feeling in your stomach."
Agent Michael Atondo faces federal charges after two agents say they busted him with bundles of marijuana inside one of the agency's trucks. Quillin said, "He was on duty in his uniform with a marked Border Patrol vehicle."
It happened Monday afternoon in an area near their Wellton station. The agents immediately reported the incident to their supervisor, and both Atondo and the loads of marijuana were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The agency has commended the two agents for sticking to Border Patrol's mantra to put honor first. Quillin said, "It just goes to show the integrity and the professionalism that Yuma sector Border Patrol agents display on a daily basis."
But unfortunately they cannot say the same for Atondo, whose alleged actions may have very well cost him his job. Quillin said, "We trust people that are out there in the field to uphold the laws and protect the nation, and to hear, well I'm not going to say he was one of our own, but to hear the suspect agent doing something like this is definitely upsetting."
Atondo remains in the Yuma County Jail. He faces federal charges in the case that will be transferred to the U.S. District Court of Arizona in Phoenix.