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Charges against US Customs agent dropped

PHOENIX (AP) Federal authorities are dropping charges against a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer accused of money laundering, computer fraud and bribery, the Arizona Republic reported this week.

"In this matter, after charging the case, and in the process of reviewing additional evidence in its entirety, we made the determination that the charges were no longer readily provable at trial," the U.S. Attorney's Office for Arizona said Thursday.

Lauro Tobias was indicted by federal prosecutors last year on charges he twice transported $100,000 in proceeds from drug sales from Las Vegas to Phoenix.

Steven West, Tobias' attorney, filed a motion July 25 to dismiss all charges. West said that his client was the victim of entrapment, "manufactured" crimes and "outrageous government conduct."

According to court documents filed by West, undercover FBI investigators were looking into corruption at the Lukeville border crossing in 2010. A confidential informant befriended Tobias and became his temporary supervisor, the filing states.

West alleged this confidential source gained Tobias' trust by taking him on trips to Miami, San Francisco and Las Vegas, where they watched a prize fight. The two also would frequent strip joints. The supervisor paid Tobias $3,000 to accompany him to deliver money to Las Vegas twice between August and October of 2012, according to West.

In the indictment, Tobias was charged with not only transporting drug money but bribery for accepting the money from the supervisor. West said Tobias was in the dark and that it was the undercover supervisor who handled everything.

"They assured him frequently that everything they did was legitimate," West said.

The charges against the 10-year veteran agent were dismissed with prejudice, effectively barring them from being filed again.

More than 140 Customs and Border Protection workers were arrested or indicted for corruption between 2005 and 2012, according to a 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office.

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