BORDER PATROL AGENT ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING ILLEGALS INTO THE COUNTRY: ARE YOU SHOCKED?

IF THE BORDER PATROL IS IN ON IT THEN WHO’S LEFT?

Sergio Lopez Hernandez, 40, a Brownsville Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday Feb. 18, 2009 , according to a sealed 11-count indictment that was partially unsealed yesterday by U.S. Magistrate John R. Froeschner, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Hernandez was arrested on Jan. 28, 2009 , and appeared the following day before U.S. Magistrate Felix Recio who ordered him detained without bond. 

Count one charges that from July 2008 to on or about Jan. 28, 2009 , Hernandez and others did knowingly and willfully conspire to bring illegal aliens to the U.S. and transport them in furtherance of their illegal presence in the United States . They are also charged with bringing an illegal alien to the United States (counts four through six) and transporting and moving an illegal alien within the United States (counts two and three) from near Los Indios, Texas, to near Brownsville, Texas, for commercial advantage and private financial gain. As a public official, that is, an officer with the Department of Homeland Security-CBP, Hernandez corruptly demanded, sought, received and accepted a thing of value to influence an official act – to allow an illegal alien to enter the United States . The bribery charges in counts seven through nine charge Hernandez with accepting in excess of $150,000. Hernandez is further charged in counts 10-11 with Francisco Mejia-Fajardo of knowingly and intentionally conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute approximately 15 kilograms of cocaine on Jan. 28, 2009 .

The Indictment also gives notice seeking the forfeiture of certain vehicles used in the commission of the offenses and the forfeiture of $85,250 seized from Hernandez Jan. 28, 2009 .

Counts one through three of the indictment are each punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000, while counts four through six are each punishable by imprisonment for not less than three nor more than 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000. Counts seven through nine are each punishable by imprisonment for up to 15 years and a fine of up to $250,000. Counts 10-11 are each punishable by imprisonment of not less than 10 years up to life and a fine of up to $4,000,000.

The case was investigated by Brownsville FBI agents and Harlingen Customs and Border Protection Office Of Professional Responsibility.