MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A former U.S. Border Patrol agent will head to federal prison for attempting to aid and abet smuggling cocaine through a checkpoint, announced the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday.
Oberlin Cortez Pena Jr., 23, La Joya, pleaded guilty Dec. 17, 2021. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Pena to 10 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.
At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence that Pena brandished an AR-15 rifle while meeting with co-defendant Edwin Alejandro Castillo to plan the smuggling of a second load of cocaine through the Falfurrias BP checkpoint, according to the Department of Justice news release.
“This defendant violated his oath to defend the Constitution, and he betrayed that trust to engage in criminal activity for financial gain,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. “Today’s sentence is a message that we will aggressively investigate and prosecute allegations of law enforcement corruption and continue to seek significant sentences when necessary to protect the public and their trust in our institutions.”
The DOJ news release also stated that four others were convicted as part of the investigation. Kristian Nicole West, 33, Corpus Christi, and Herbey Jose Solis III, 29, Mission, pleaded guilty to alien smuggling.
Castillo, 24, Sullivan City, and Jose Luis Duran, 26, Mission, admitted to alien smuggling. At the time of their pleas, Castillo also admitted to bribery, while Duran was also convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery. They each received three years in prison.
Pena was previously released on bond but was taken into custody in December 2022 after he was found possessing a firearm at a ranch.
He will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.