A U.S. Border Patrol agent and an Arizona Department of Corrections officer have been charged with aiding drug smugglers and conspiring to move illegal drugs across the US-Mexico border, FOX News Channel confirmed Friday.
The pair allegedly provided smugglers with border sensor locations, combinations to border gates and the identities of confidential informants, according to the US Attorney's office.
Border Patrol agent Ivhan Herrera-Chiang, 29, and corrections officer Michael Lopez-Garcia, 28, an employee of the Arizona state prison in Yuma, were arrested Thursday and charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.
A federal complaint alleges Herrera-Chiang obtained sensitive information about Border Patrol operations and shared it with drug smugglers. Lopez-Garcia took the information from Herrera-Chiang and delivered it to people he thought were affiliated with Mexican drug-trafficking organizations, The Arizona Republic reported, citing the complaint.
But some of the supposed drug buyers with whom Lopez-Garcia had contact were actually undercover agents, the complaint said.
Lopez-Garcia was also charged with personally smuggling two pounds of methamphetamine through a border checkpoint.
"When a law enforcement officer taints their badge, it erodes public confidence and threatens national security," James L. Turgal Jr., special agent in charge of the Phoenix FBI, said in a statement, according to The Republic.
If convicted, the two men face a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $10 million fine, or both.
According to figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), between 2003 and 2009, 129 Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents were arrested on corruption charges.
"When a law enforcement officer taints their badge, it erodes public confidence and threatens national security," said James Turgal, special agent in charge of the FBI's Phoenix division, according to the Chicago Tribune.