A Customs and Border Protection officer in Brownsville has been arrested on drug conspiracy and bribery charges for allegedly allowing drug shipments into the country in exchange for money, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
Jose Luis Zavala, 38, was arrested Friday for permitting marijuana-laden vehicles to enter the U.S. through a Brownsville port of entry, where he had been a CBP officer for the past seven years, according to a federal complaint.
On Nov. 19, a driver abandoned a van carrying 1,362 kilograms of marijuana in the inspection lane Zavala was working at the Gateway Port of Entry in Brownsville, the complaint shows.
A subsequent investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Homeland Security — Office of Inspector General found text messages sent to Zavala’s personal cell phone that allegedly revealed coordination of payment to Zavala for allowing marijuana shipments to enter the country, federal prosecutors said.
If convicted, Zavala could face up to life in federal prison on the drug conspiracy charge and a maximum of 15 years for bribery. He was expected to make an initial appearance in court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Morgan on Monday.