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April 14, 2009

CBP INSPECTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO DRUG TRAFFICKING, ALIEN SMUGGLING AND BRIBERY

(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) – A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector has been convicted of drug trafficking, alien smuggling and bribery, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced  today.

Sergio Lopez Hernandez, 40, of Brownsville, pleaded guilty late Monday afternoon, April 13, 2009. He admitted that between July 2008 through Jan. 28, 2009, while employed as a CBP inspector, he conspired with others to bring illegal aliens to the U.S. and transporting them in furtherance of their illegal presence in the United States, bringing in illegal aliens to the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain, and accepting bribes to influence him in his official capacity as a officer with the Department of Homeland Security-CBP. Hernandez also pleaded guilty to accepting in excess of $150,000 in bribe money and to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute approximately 15 kilograms of cocaine on Jan. 28, 2009. As part of his agreement with the United States, Hernandez will also forfeit $85,250 seized from him Jan. 28, 2009.

The alien smuggling conspiracy conviction is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years, while bringing in illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain carries a punishment range of not less than five nor more than 15 years imprisonment. The bribery conviction is punishable by imprisonment for up to 15 years. Each of these three convictions also carries a maximum fine of $250,000. The cocaine trafficking conviction is punishable by a mandatory minimum of 10 years imprisonment up to a maximum of life and a fine of up to $4 million.

United States District Court Judge Hilda G. Tagle has sent sentencing for June 13, 2009. Hernandez has been in jail since his arrest on Jan. 28, 2009.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by agents of the FBI’s Brownsville Resident office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Office of Professional Responsibility, Department of Homeland Security - Office of Inspector General and CBP - Office Of Internal Affairs.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Castro.

 

 

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