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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Customs Cop Pleads Guilty Trafficking and Bribery

Customs officer pleads guilty to drug trafficking and bribery charges
The Browsville Herlad by Ildefonso Ortiz - April 14, 2009

BROWNSVILLE, TX - A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, alien smuggling and bribery charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Sergio Lopez Hernandez, 40, of Brownsville, entered the guilty plea Monday before U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle. Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13. He faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of nearly $5 million. A 12-year veteran with the federal agency, Hernandez has been in jail since arrested on Jan. 28 by FBI agents working in conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CBP. The U.S. Attorney's Office reported Hernandez admitted to the charges of conspiracy to bring illegal immigrants to the United States, bringing illegal immigrants to the U.S. for commercial advantage and private financial gain, and accepting bribes to influence his official capacity as a CBP officer. According to federal authorities, Hernandez committed these crimes while working as a CBP inspector at the Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios, between July and January. Hernandez also pleaded guilty to accepting bribes of more than $150,000 in cash and conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 15 kilograms of cocaine. As part of his plea agreement, Hernandez forfeited $85,250 seized from his home on Jan. 28.

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