Border Patrol agent sentenced to six years for corruption conviction

Eric Macias was sentenced to six years in prison.
Photo: Department of Homeland Security

A Border Patrol agent who helped drug traffickers smuggle cocaine and marijuana into the country for about two years was sentenced today by a federal judge in New Mexico to six years in prison.

Eric R. Macias, who was stationed in Deming, New Mexico, previously pleaded guilty to one count of bribery and one count of attempt to aid and abet possession and intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine. Macias also accepted about $14,000 in bribe money, according to court records.

A federal grand jury in Las Cruces indicted Macias in March 2009 on eight counts. Four other counts of bribery and two other drug-related charges were dismissed, according to court records. The case was investigated by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General and Customs and Border Protection internal affairs.

The former agent admitted in his Oct. 2009 plea agreement that from March 2006 until at least February 2008 he helped drug traffickers transport cocaine and marijuana.

Macias, 31, was hired by the Border Patrol in 2005, said Border Patrol spokesman Doug Mosier. He was arrested in January 2009 after he told a confidential informant how to avoid getting caught smuggling marijuana. He also provided cover by escorting two shipments of cocaine.

He admitted to accepting a $10,000 bribe to escort in early December 2007 a person he thought was a drug trafficker smuggle five kilograms of cocaine, according to the plea agreement. The drug trafficker was a government informant.

Macias admitted that while he was on roving patrol he escorted the informant’s vehicle. He would distract other Border Patrol agents by pulling off to the side of the road to speak with them to allow the vehicle to pass undetected. Macias would then catch up with the vehicle and continue the escort, according to the plea agreement.

The agent's sentencing comes on the heels of the arrest of Daniel Ledezma, a Customs and Border Protection officer. Ledezma, 33, was swept up last week as part of a 22-month, multi-agency drug-trafficking investigation that resulted in 2,200 arrests and seizures of more than 70 tons of drugs and $154 million, according to a Justice Department press release.

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