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Customs Officer Arrested in Bank Fraud Case

A longtime U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer has been arrested on federal charges that allege that he stole mail from the International Mail Facility (IMF) in Torrance and arranged to have an accomplice deposit checks obtained from the stolen mail.

Carlos Canjura, 54, of Van Nuys, was arrested yesterday without incident by special agents with the FBI. The arrest came after Canjura, who has been a CBP officer since 2008, was named in an eight-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on August 4.

At an arraignment Tuesday afternoon in United States District Court, Canjura pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment and was released on his own recognizance.

According to the indictment, Canjura was a CBP Officer assigned to the IMF, where his duties included examining mail and parcels coming into the United States for contraband, counterfeit goods, and possible fraudulent financial checks or credit cards. The IMF is operated by the United States Postal Service and serves as a location where international mail is processed by CBP officers and other personnel to ensure compliance with federal law before being delivered to addresses in the United States.

“The public should be able to use the mail without fear that officials charged with safeguarding the system are not abusing it for their own benefit,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Mr. Canjura not only abused his position as a federal officer by stealing international mail, he also sought to use the stolen mail in an elaborate scheme to defraud banks and line his own pockets. In so doing, he violated the public trust he swore to uphold.”

According to the indictment, while working at the IMF, Canjura stole mail that contained traveler’s checks and third-party checks. Canjura allegedly provided the stolen checks to other people, who altered the checks and deposited them into bank accounts at Bank of America.

The indictment specifically alleges that Canjura stole four checks with a cumulative value of more than $15,000.

“Americans must be able to trust officials handling their mail which conveys highly valuable information, to include our identification and financial data,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The FBI is committed to holding accountable those, like Mr. Canjura, who abuse their positions of trust and threaten our security for personal gain.”

The indictment against Canjura charges him with four counts of bank fraud and four counts of possession of stolen mail. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell, who has ordered the parties to appear on August 15 for a trial setting conference.