According to the FBI, a federal Border Patrol officer has been charged with three offenses while serving in Imperial Beach, a city that lies near San Diego. Noe Lopez has been charged with bribery, as well as attempting to distribute 6 pounds of methamphetamine and 7 kilos of cocaine. Border Patrol Agent Lopez worked at the station at Imperial Beach. There he told an informer of his ability to smuggle narcotics into the United States from Mexico. For a fee, Lopez also agreed to pick up backpacks filled with narcotics while on duty and transport them safe locations inside the country.
According to the FBI, Lopez sought to distribute narcotics at least twice. He retrieved a backpack with what he believed to be 6 pounds of methamphetamine. Then on December 8 of this year, Lopez retrieved what he was led to believe were 7 kilograms of cocaine. In both instances, Lopez made the deliveries to agreed-upon locations in San Diego, receiving a total of $10,000 in cash.
The charges against him also allege that Lopez accepted bribes to assist in drug trafficking while reneging on his sworn duty to enforce the law. He will appear today before Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt to determine whether he should remain in custody pending trial.
The allegations against Lopez surprised a woman who identified herself as the agent's ex-wife. She told Philadelphia NBC-affiliate WCAU that her ex-husband may have had problems with money. “Everyone has money issues. We live in San Diego, but I mean, nothing to this extreme for someone to risk their career,” she said.
In a statement, Chief Patrol Agent Richard A. Barlow declared that his agency is cooperating with the investigation. “Border Patrol agents are held to the highest standards, and we remain committed to performing our duties for the American people in the most professional way,” he said. Lopez is the third federal agent busted since this September on corruption charges. A task force that examined Border Patrol practices determined that penalties meted out to personnel do little to prevent corruption. The report concluded that the “discipline system is broken. “ Lopez was a 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol. “Such corrupt officials can assist the (drug) cartels by providing intelligence and facilitating the movement of large amounts of contraband across our borders and into our country,” the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s final report said. “Indeed, corrupt CBP law enforcement personnel pose a national security threat.”
Customs and Border Protection Officer Jose Luis Cota, who worked at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, was arrested in September and accused of allowing a woman to smuggle illegal immigrants in exchange for sex and cash, according to the Los Angeles Times. In November, former Homeland Security investigator Tyrone Duren was arrested and accused of tstealing money from drug-traffickers and laundering the cash.
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