HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Feds - Agent Took Money, Let Drugs Pass Checkpoint
Pubdate: Wed, 20 Sep 2006
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Copyright: 2006 El Paso Times
Author: Daniel Borunda,  El Paso Times
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


A veteran U.S. Border Patrol agent has been arrested on accusations he
was bribed to wave drug loads through the checkpoint on Highway 62/180
east of El Paso, federal court documents state.

Arturo Arzate Jr., 47, was arrested Friday as part of an on-going
multi-agency investigation that included undercover agents, said
Special Agent Andrea Simmons, a spokeswoman for the FBI in El Paso.

Border Patrol spokesman Doug Mosier said Arzate has been with the
agency since 1985 and has been placed on administrative leave pending
the outcome of the case.

"The agency has a long-standing tradition of honor and service to the
country, and we will not allow the poor decisions of a few to
discredit the world class professionalism of the men and women on
America's frontline," Mosier said in a written statement.

According to a federal criminal complaint, Arzate was allegedly paid
$50 per kilo of marijuana and $1,000 per kilo of cocaine he allowed to
pass through the checkpoint between El Paso and Carlsbad. The document
alleges Arzate met with smugglers to plan when he could allow
contraband to pass.

An investigation began last November when someone told the FBI that
Arzate had been seen with a now-dead local drug trafficker named David
Soto discussing moving drug loads through the checkpoint, the
complaint stated.

In April, Arzate allegedly began planning the drug smuggling with a
witness working with investigators.

On May 3, Arzate allegedly allowed a 200-pound marijuana load hidden
in a pickup to pass the checkpoint. A person in the truck was an
undercover agent with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

On May 5, Arzate met with the undercover agent who gave him a bag with
$10,000 in payment.

On May 26, Arzate allegedly allowed 6 kilos of cocaine to pass the
checkpoint with the undercover officer, who paid him $6,000 in a
recorded meeting on May 31.

By June 27, Arzate was introduced to an undercover FBI agent posing as
the undercover smuggler's superior.

On Friday, federal agents arrested Arzate on charges of bribery,
conspiracy and knowingly distributing a controlled substance.

The investigation also includes the Office of the Inspector General of
the Department of Homeland Security and the Texas Rangers.
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