A 46-year-old Alamo man made his first appearance in federal court Friday morning after authorities arrested him Wednesday night and charged the man with bribery.
Oziel Cantu, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, is accused of accepting $15,000 to facilitate the importation of approximately 25 pounds of cocaine through the Pharr Port of Entry for a drug trafficker.
Cantu, however, didn’t know the drug trafficker was a federal agent and that the cocaine was fake.
A criminal complaint against the CBP officer says authorities identified the man after the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Inspector General, CBP and the Office of Progessional Responsibility on June 9 initiated an investigation into a law enforcement who was facilitating the importation of narcotics in exchange for money.
As the investigation developed, federal agents say Cantu contacted a DHS-OIG undercover agent on Aug. 12 via WhatsApp and requested a meeting.
Cantu and the undercover met on Aug. 17 and 18, according to the criminal complaint.
“During the meetings, CBPO Oziel Cantu discussed smuggling narcotics from Mexico to the United States through the Pharr POE,” the charging document states. “CBPO Oziel Cantu stated that in exchange for cash payment of $15,000.00, he would assist a vehicle concealed with 40 kilograms of cocaine make entry into the United States through the Pharr POE.”
According to the complaint, Cantu told the undercover to make entry during the early morning hours of Aug. 19.
“UCA-1 advised CBPO Oziel Cantu that the drug laden vehicle would be a white Chevrolet Silverado and the driver would place a read hard hat on the dashboard near the driver side,” the charging document states.
Federal authorities say Cantu told the undercover he would provide instructions via WhatsApp regarding the method and time the vehicle needed to make entry on Aug. 19.
At 5:39 a.m. that day, federal agents say Cantu told the undercover the vehicle containing the narcotics was going to be clear to pass inspection.
“A few minutes later, at approximately 5:46 a.m., CBPO Oziel Cantu further instructed that 3 inspection lanes would be open and that the vehicle carrying narcotics needed to proceed through inspection lane 1 as soon as the Pharr POE was open,” the criminal complaint states. “Shortly thereafter, an undercover agent (“UCA-2″), driving a white Chevrolet Silverado concealing 10 bricks of sham cocaine, weighing approximately 11.35 kilograms, made entry into the United States at Pharr POE through inspection lane 1.”
At 4:10 p.m. on Aug. 19, Cantu met with the first undercover and collected $15,000, the charging document states.
“Authorities took Cantu into custody after arriving to accept the $15,000 payment,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas said in a news release announcing the man’s arrest.
Cantu is temporarily being held without bond pending detention and probable cause hearings scheduled for early next week.