SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. Border Patrol agent in San Diego was charged Thursday with bribery for allegedly accepting $10,000 to deliver backpacks of what he believed to be smuggled methamphetamine and cocaine that were dropped along the border fence with Mexico.
Noe Lopez, 36, allegedly collected $3,000 from a confidential government source last week for picking up 6 pounds of fake methamphetamine while on duty and accepted $7,000 two days later for retrieving 7 kilograms of phony cocaine.
Lopez made an initial court appearance Thursday and was due to return Tuesday to determine if he is eligible for bail. The court docket does not list an attorney for him.
The Border Patrol said Lopez has been put on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the case. He is also charged with drug-related crimes.
"Border Patrol agents are held to the highest standards, and we remain committed to performing our duties for the American people in the most professional way," said Richard Barlow, chief of the Border Patrol's San Diego sector.
Lopez joined the agency 10 years ago, shortly before a massive hiring spree led to a big spike in the number of agents charged with corruption.
According to a probable cause statement, Lopez met the confidential government source in October and described how he could pick up backpacks of smuggled drugs while on patrol. He was assigned to one of the most fortified stretches of border along the U.S. divide with Mexico.
Lopez allegedly agreed to accept $500 for each pound of smuggled methamphetamine and $1,000 for each kilogram of cocaine.