Two San Luis Obispo police officers pleaded guilty in federal court of illegally bringing pharmaceuticals into the U.S. from Mexico. Both remain on administrative paid leave. Officers Daniel McDow and Armando Limon accepted a plea agreement April 28, nearly eight months after the two were detained at the San Ysidro border checkpoint as they attempted to reenter the country from Tijuana on Sept. 15, 2009. McDow and Limon each admitted guilt to one count of introducing and delivering misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, a misdemeanor.
According to sentencing guidelines, the officers could have been imprisoned for one year and been placed on probation for five years. However, the officers agreed to the plea in exchange for no jail time and one year of unsupervised probation.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office refused to comment about why the plea was negotiated.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs spokesperson Lauren Mack, the two were discovered in possession of “a significant quantity”—more than 850 pills—of pharmaceuticals that were labeled in Spanish, for which neither possessed a prescription.
The officers had three medications: methylphenidate, a US-designated Schedule II controlled substance that is commonly used to treat symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); sibutramine, an appetite suppressant; and diethylpropion, a Schedule IV narcotic commonly prescribed for dieting. All three medications are known to be abused for illicit recreation, are addictive, and can be fatal, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The officers have not publicly revealed why they had the drugs. Calls to their attorney requesting comment were not returned.
McDow and Limon remain on paid administrative leave, pending results of a city investigation into the matter. According to San Luis Obispo Director of Human Resources Monica Irons, Limon has collected $99,446.55 and McDow $99,254.03 in pay since being relieved of active duty in September. According to the City Attorney’s Office, Limon has been employed by the city since November 2001; McDow since April 2002.
SLOPD Captain Ian Parkinson said the internal investigation is ongoing and the city is awaiting reports from the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding the case.
Because the issue is a personnel matter and governed by the Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights, city officials would not comment on the specifics of the investigation, to what extent the officers have participated in drug-related arrests, or whether the two have been screened for drug use.
Parkinson did confirm the two will remain on paid leave until the investigation concludes. “But what I can say is we are moving on this as rapidly as possible,” Parkinson said. ∆