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.

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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.

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