BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A Mexican drug cartel had a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer working for them at an international port of entry in this border city. That U.S. federal officer will be spending six and a half years in prison for using his badge to help cartel drug smugglers get their loads into America.
On Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced 38-year-old Jose Luis Zavala for his role in a drug conspiracy to smuggle more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana into the country.
As initially reported by Breitbart Texas, federal agents arrested Zavala last December following an investigation into a corrupt officer working for drug cartels at an international bridge.
The case against the corrupt officer began in November 2014 after authorities seized around 3,000 pounds at one of the international bridge in Brownsville.
The driver had fled to Mexico. He left behind an U.S. passport card that didn’t belong to him. Soon after, the owner of the passport card showed up at the bridge and became an informant claiming that he had given the card to a Mexican cartel in exchange for $360.
The informant told agents with Homeland Security Investigations that the Mexican cartel had a CBP officer working for them named Pepe. He stated he had met Pepe before in Mexico. The informant gave the agents Pepe’s phone number which turned out to be Zavala’s personal cell number. He also described his Zavala’s personal vehicle. The informant showed the agents multiple text messages exchanged with Zavala where the two talked in code about smuggling drugs.
Breitbart Texas was present during some of the hearings in Zavala’s case where prosecutors and attorney’s talked about the corrupt officers frequent trips to the Mexican city of Monterrey and his ties to known cartel members.
Rather than go to trial, Zavala pleaded guilty to the drug charges against him in March.