The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) stated in a news release last week that 48-year-old Oziel Cantu of Mission pleaded guilty on April 1, 2021 to one count of bribery of a public official. He was an officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez in McAllen sentenced Cantu to 120 months in prison plus three years of supervised release following his term of incarceration.
“In handing down the sentence, Judge Alvarez noted this type of case bothers her every single time and it is very difficult to understand the situation in which Cantu put himself,” the DOJ stated. “She informed him that everyone in the court room has been in a difficult financial situation before and yet none of them resorted to crime.”
The DOJ characterized the crime as “law enforcement corruption” and stated that Cantu had been caught during an “undercover operation.”
On August 19, 2020, Cantu worked with Mexican drug traffickers to move 40 kilograms of cocaine through the Pharr Port of Entry, per the DOJ. He directed them to a specific lane at the checkpoint so he could allow the contraband to clear the station.
Cantu remains free on bond and will be allowed to turn himself in to begin his prison sentence at a later date.
In its monthly operational update for June, CBP reported a 62 percent increase nationwide in cocaine seizures from May. Border guards have confiscated nearly 50,000 pounds of cocaine so far in Fiscal Year 2022, per the agency’s statistics.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."