Bond granted for Border Patrol agent facing federal charges

A Border Patrol agent from La Joya was granted a bond in a case in which he faces nine counts of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, records show.

On Friday, Oberlin Cortez Peña Jr. posted a bond of $100,000 with a $5,000 cash deposit in the drug smuggling case in which he was allegedly coordinating with someone he believed to be a smuggler and who he allegedly helped get cocaine and other prohibited items through the checkpoint he manned.

Cortez, a Border Patrol agent assigned to the Falfurrias checkpoint, was charged with attempting to aid and abet possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance after a nearly month-long internal investigation led to his arrest July 9.

In June, special agents with the U.S Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General “developed a cooperator” to make contact with Cortez.

On June 21, Cortez allegedly communicated with the federal cooperator and arranged to work as “counter surveillance” for the cooperator for $500. The cooperator told Cortez he was trying to smuggle an undocumented man through the Falfurrias checkpoint, the complaint stated.

“(Cortez), a U.S. Border Patrol Agent, said he would drive ahead on his way to work and communicate which checkpoint lane to smuggle the (undocumented man) through,” the document stated.

The following day, Cortez met the cooperator at a mall in McAllen.

The charges allege that on two different and separate occasions, Cortez accepted $1,000 in exchange for helping a vehicle with at least 5 kilos of cocaine pass through the Falfurrias checkpoint.

Cortez allegedly used his knowledge as an agent in acting as a scout and providing information about the inspection lanes, and which ones to use to get through with narcotics.

According to the complaint, the 22-year-old man also gave detailed instructions on how to conceal the drugs and tactics to employ in order to distract the K-9 unit at the checkpoint.

If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years up to life in federal prison as well as a possible $10 million maximum fine.