Blaine customs inspector charged in smuggling case
Desmone Bastian, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection
(CBP) inspector at the Pacific Highway crossing in Blaine,
was arrested last week by federal agents and was charged
with smuggling and receiving a bribe to allow contraband
across the border last spring.
Bastian, 30, has been a CPB inspector for eight years and according to his attorney Michael Nance has no criminal history.
Federal agents claimed in a detention hearing held last Tuesday that Bastian had been working with Sandra Maas of Vancouver, a woman they described as a prostitute and a madam. Maas was detained last March while trying to smuggle 3,000 oxycontin pills at the truck crossing in Blaine, and when Bastian left his post and walked over to intervene federal agents became suspicious.
Maas was arrested and pled guilty to smuggling the powerful painkiller that’s also a popular street drug. Authorities later discovered Bastian’s number on her cell phone, and said that several calls between the two coincided with crossings Maas had made going back several years.
“She would manage to use his inspection lane,” said Emily Langlie of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle, “but she was never sent in for secondary inspection.”
Based on information presumably supplied by Maas, federal agents tied Bastian to a 220-pound load of pot that had been brought through his lane at the border on February 5, 2006. Maas alleged that Bastian had talked with her in front of witnesses about border security, and that to convince him to go along she offered to meet him for sex at the Shell station on D Street in Blaine. His acceptance of that arrangement led to the bribery charges.
Though federal district attorneys at the detention hearing asked that Bastian be kept in custody, Nance argued that Bastian should be released, and court magistrate Mary Alice Theiler agreed, asking Bastian to surrender his passport and post a $20,000 bond. At press time Nance said that Bastian’s Canadian wife was in the process of doing that.
Theiler set January 2 as Bastian’s court date, and until then he must stay in south Surrey but will be allowed to cross the border into western Washington to meet with his attorney and attend court. If convicted, Bastian faces as much as 40 years for smuggling and up to 15 years for accepting a bribe.