Border Agent, Corrections Officer Charged With Helping Traffickers Smuggle Drugs Into U.S.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent and a corrections officer with the Arizona Department of Correction were arrested yesterday on charges that they helped a drug trafficking organization (DTO) smuggle drugs into the United States.
Ivhan Herrera-Chiang, 29, a U.S. Border Patrol agent stationed in Yuma, and Michael Lopez-Garcia, 28, a corrections officer at the Arizona State Prison Complex in San Luis, have been charged with conspiracy to possess a controlled substances with intent to distribute after federal authorities determined the pair had been helping the DTO since 2010.
According to the feds, Herrera would "obtain and disclose sensitive information--including sensor maps, combinations to gates located near the U.S/Mexican border, computer records concerning prior drug seizures, and the identity of confidential informants--to which he had access by virtue of his membership in a Border Patrol intelligence unit."
Lopez, the feds allege, personally smuggled two pounds of crystal meth across the border. He's also accused of guiding cocaine traffickers around border agent patrols and checkpoints.
Lopez also is on the hook for delivering drugs and information obtained by Herrera to people he believed to be members of the DTO. Unfortunately for Lopez and Herrera, the people he delivered the drugs and information to were undercover federal agents.
"DHS Office of Inspector General will continue to be committed to working with our law enforcement partners to identify and aggressively investigate all allegations of corruption to protect our borders and the integrity of DHS personnel, programs, and operations," Special Agent in Charge Paul Leonard says in a statement. "Acts of corruption within the Department of Homeland Security represent a threat to our nation and undermine the honest and hardworking employees who strive to maintain the integrity of the Department. Corruption will not be tolerated and those who choose to break the law will be pursued aggressively."
If convicted, Lopez and Herrera face up to life in prison and a $10 million fine.
Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux tells New Times Lopez has been administratively reassigned to a non-contact position with the DOC. An administrative investigation will be conducted, Lamoreaux says.
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