La Joya Border Patrol agent accused of helping smuggle cocaine across Falfurrias checkpoint
Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Border Patrol.
A Border Patrol agent is facing federal charges after an investigation found he helped smuggle cocaine across the Falfurrias checkpoint, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office and federal court records.
Authorities arrested Oberlin Cortez Pena Jr., 22, of La Joya on July 9, upon the filing of a criminal complaint.
The charges allege that on two occasions, Pena accepted $1,000 in exchange for helping a vehicle with 5.9 kilograms of cocaine, or 13 pounds, through the Falfurrias checkpoint.
The complaint alleges Pena met with a coordinator at the La Plaza Mall and an Academy store in McAllen before to discuss smuggling arrangements.
Pena gave instructions on where to hide the drugs, how to distract the K-9, and which lane to drive through, according to the criminal complaint against him.
If convicted, Pena faces a minimum of 10 years in prison, according to the news release.
Pena made his first court appearance Monday morning.
Pena's attorney, Ricardo L. Salinas, wasn't immediately available for comment on Monday.
Pena has a detention hearing set for July 15 at 2 p.m.
The RGV Border Patrol sector released the following statement to Channel 5 News:
"On July 9, 2021, a Border Patrol Agent assigned to the Falfurrias Station was arrested by the DHS Office of Inspector General and CBP Office of Professional Responsibility on allegations he attempted to aid and abet smuggling cocaine through a Border Patrol 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.
The Rio Grande Valley Sector is committed to cooperating with any criminal or administrative investigation of alleged misconduct involving Border Patrol personnel, on or off duty. The U.S. Border Patrol is fully cooperating with the investigation.
CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and expects CBP employees and officers to perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe. The DHS Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation with full support from CBP Office of Professional Responsibility and the U.S. Border Patrol."
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