A federal judge in Arizona sentenced a former Border Patrol to seven and a half years in prison for his role in helping smuggle marijuana into Arizona. The agent received bribes for assisting in the smuggling effort.
The judge sentenced Alberto Michel, 41, to spend 90 months in prison after he and two other men agreed to smuggle drugs into the U.S. from Mexico last year, AZ Central reported.
Agent Michel began serving in the Border Patrol in 2009. He admitted to investigators that he provided counter-surveillance during smuggling operations utilizing information he obtained as an Intelligence Unit agent, the Arizona news outlet reported.
The former agents also passed along information to the smugglers about “law enforcement interdiction practices” and how to thwart those practices. In exchange for the intelligence information, the agents received about two payments of $12,000 each, according to the plea agreement. This amounted to about $40 per pound of the smuggled marijuana.
Michel is ordered to spend three years on supervised release following the completion of his prison sentence. He is further ordered to repay the $24,000 he received in bribes.
The plea agreement resulted in convictions for two of the original six counts filed against the now-former agent.
In another case of corruption along the border, a federal judge in South Texas previously sentenced a former Border Patrol agent to two years in prison for lying about taking bribes and assisting in “fake drug seizures.”
Federal Judge Randy Crane sentenced former Border Patrol Agent Eduardo Bazan to spend two years in federal prison. Bazan pleaded guilty to charges of making a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement to a federal agent in connection with an investigation, CBS4 Valley Central reported. Bazan will also spend three years on supervised release following the completion of his prison sentence.
Bazan’s case began in 2016 when investigators questioned the former Border Patrol supervisor about his role in ripping off cartel-connected drug smuggling groups, Breitbart Texas’ Ildefonso Ortiz reported.
Court documents obtained by Ortiz revealed the 2013 investigation looked into a February 2007 incident where Bazan participated in a staged drug seizure. He received $8,000 for his role in the theft. Bazan is the son of Eduardo “Walo” Bazan, a former Hidalgo County Constable who was previously convicted of felony theft, Ortiz reported.
An informant disclosed that Bazan helped in the theft of the drugs, court documents revealed at the time.
“The confidential informant advised that the drug trafficking organization (DTO) coordinated staged narcotic seizures of sham, or diluted, narcotics with the assistance of law enforcement officials which enabled the organization to steal drug loads from unwitting narcotics sources of supply,” the criminal complaint stated. “The DTO would then re-distribute the real cocaine for a profit.”
“During the aforementioned inciden,t BAZAN observed suspicious activity near 27th or 28th Street in McAllen, Texas,” the complaint continued. “BAZAN claimed he approached the area in his patrol vehicle and observed suspects running from the scene. BAZAN utilized his service radio to request agents respond to the scene. BAZAN claimed he chased a suspect but was unable to apprehend the individual. BAZAN returned to the scene and discovered agents had discovered bundles of cocaine in the vehicle.”
Investigators later uncovered several incidents where Bazan assisted in in fake drug seizures. He eventually admitted to lying about his involvement. He also admitted to receiving an $8,000 payment for helping the drug traffickers with the fake seizures.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, GAB, and Facebook.
Editor’s Note: Due to an editing error, the first part of the story was not included in the original publication. The article has been updated to include the entire story.