Border Patrol Agent Arrested On Drug Smuggling Charges

Photo shows a law enforcement official searching a vehicle for drugs.
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News

United States Border Patrol agent Oberlin Cortez Pena Jr. was arrested last week on charges that he helped smuggle drugs through a checkpoint near the U.S.-Mexico border, officials revealed Monday.

As reported by Business Insider, Pena allegedly accepted $1,000 -- on two separate occasions -- in exchange for helping a vehicle smuggle at least 11 pounds of cocaine through a checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas.

The 22-year-old Pena now faces a minimum of 10 years up to life in federal prison and a possible $10 million fine.

Details Below

According to acting US attorney for the Southern District of Texas Jennifer B. Lowery, Pena "utilized his knowledge" as a Border Patrol agent "in acting as a scout and providing information about the inspection lanes and which one to utilize."

Authorities also claim Pena used his expertise to help his collaborators smuggle the cocaine and divert the K-9 unit's attention.

He allegedly "gave precise instructions on how to hide the drugs and tactics to use in order to distract the K-9 unit at the checkpoint."

Increase In Drug Smuggling

The drug fentanyl.
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There has been a "staggering" increase, as NBC News put it, in drug smuggling at the El Paso section of the southern border over the past few years.

For instance, so far in the 2021 fiscal year, border patrol agents have found 41 pounds of the drug fentanyl, two milligrams of which can be lethal. In comparison, three years ago, they found just one pound of fentanyl.

According to authorities, cartels are now able to produce the drug themselves using raw materials imported from China.

Cartels

As Chief Border Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez explained, cartels have become "very creative."

"They find ways to intimidate migrants and find ways to illegally have them transport that narcotic into the United States, " Chavez said.

"For the first time, we’re starting to see these tactics where fentanyl is being smuggled between ports of entry," she added.

Per NBC News' sources with the Drug Enforcement Administration, most cartels are focused on fentanyl because it is potent and easy to smuggle due to its small size.

Border Wall

Republicans have blamed President Joe Biden for the increase in drug smuggling and human trafficking at the southern border, claiming that he should not have reversed his predecessor Donald Trump's policies.

Biden put Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of immigration and she, too, has come under fire for allegedly refusing to take responsibility for what is being described as a major crisis.

Harris paid a visit to Latin America last month, and warned potential migrants against traveling north. "Do not come, do not come," she repeatedly told them.