Federal agent charged with aiding drug smuggling
McALLEN, Texas – A Border Patrol (BP) agent has been arrested on allegations he attempted to aid and abet smuggling cocaine through a BP checkpoint, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Oberlin Cortez Pena Jr., 22, La Joya, is set to make his appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia S. Medrano at 9 a.m. today.
Authorities took him into custody July 9 upon the filing of a criminal complaint. The charges allege that on two separate occasions, Pena accepted $1,000 in exchange for helping a vehicle with at least five kilograms of cocaine through the Falfurrias checkpoint. Pena allegedly utilized his knowledge as a BP agent in acting as a scout and providing information about the inspection lanes and which one to utilize.
According to the complaint, he also gave detailed instructions on how to conceal the drugs and tactics to employ in order to distract the K-9 unit at the checkpoint.
If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years up to life in federal prison as well as a possible $10 million maximum fine.
Department of Homeland Security - Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation with assistance from Customs and Border Protection - Office of Professional Responsibility and BP. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jongwoo Chung and John Pearson are prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.