Federal authorities filed charges against a member of the Texas National Guard for allegedly stealing drugs seized at a border crossing in Laredo, Texas. The guardsman was deployed under Operation Guardian Support at the time of the alleged crime.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan K. Patrick announced the charges Monday evening after a Texas Army National Guardsman reportedly stole 1.5 kilograms of seized methamphetamine from the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Laredo, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. The theft came to light after the guardsman allegedly consumed some of the meth, inducing a medical emergency.
Agents from ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested Texas National Guardsman Edwin Baez of Cypress, Texas, on August 22 after he reportedly checked himself into the Laredo Medical Center with a “drug-induced medical emergency,” according to a criminal complaint. Baez told the agents that, in his role as a member of the National Guard assisting CBP officers, he stole some methamphetamine seized during a border crossing inspection at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, the complaint states.
Baez was assigned to assist CBP officers on August 1 under the authority of Operation Guardian Support. His assigned role was to assist CBP officers with drug interdiction and other CBP law enforcement activities. On what appears to be his first day on the assignment, August 1, Baez allegedly told the agents he assisted CBP officers in the seizure of methamphetamine that was hidden in framed paintings being shipped through the World Trade Bridge commercial port of entry. During the seizure, Baez said he hid one of the frames in a dumpster.
The complaint alleges that Baez returned to the dumpster on August 20 and removed one of the four bundles hidden in the frame. He left the three remaining bundles. Baez reportedly said he then placed the drugs in his backpack and took it to his hotel room where he consumed some of the meth and experienced a “drug-induced medical emergency.”
Baez reportedly told the agents he discussed a plan to steal the seized drugs and sell or distribute them.
The agents carried out a search of the guardsman’s hotel room and found .20 kilograms of crystal meth. They then searched the dumpster and found the remaining bundles weighing approximately 1.5 kg. Officials stated that the value of the stolen methamphetamine was approximately $12,000.
ICE officials said Baez faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison for the drug charges and an additional sentence of up to 10 years for theft of government property. He could also face a military court-martial and dishonorable discharge.