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This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 18, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
A former U.S. Border Patrol agent found himself in court Tuesday, shackled and seated with the smugglers he once arrested.
Wearing gray athletic pants and a black t-shirt emblazoned with the words “Shots Fired,” former Border Patrol Agent Daniel Polanco, 37, of Edinburg appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Juan F. Alanis on Tuesday afternoon.
“We plan to vigorously defend him on this new charge,” said attorney Marco De Luna of Mission, who represents Polanco.
Polanco worked at the Falfurrias Border Patrol Station, where he became chief union representative, according to the website of National Border Patrol Council Local 3307.
At some point, Polanco met Dimas De Leon, a drug trafficker who worked with a network of corrupt cops.
The case against De Leon started in 2011, when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration seized two shipments of cocaine. Lab tests showed the cocaine was “very low purity,” according to federal court records.
The investigation revealed that Carlos Oyervides, a federal informant, had orchestrated the drug busts — and stolen most of the cocaine.
In 2013, though, Oyervides was kidnapped in Reynosa and the case went cold, according to federal court records. The Mexican military detained Oyervides in 2014.
Homeland Security Investigations, a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, convinced the Mexican government to release him. Agents brought Oyervides back across the border and questioned him.
Oyervides told them De Leon agreed to transport cocaine for drug traffickers. When he received the cocaine, however, De Leon would stage a fake drug bust with help from corrupt cops.
Officers would seize bundles with trace amounts of cocaine or marijuana packed around bales of hay. The fake drug busts allowed De Leon to steal cocaine and marijuana without attracting attention.
Homeland Security Investigations eventually linked De Leon to law enforcement officers, including former Edcouch police Lt. Vicente Salinas, former Border Patrol Agent Eduardo Bazan, former Houston police Officer Marcos Esteban Carrion and Harris County Precinct 7 Deputy Constable Juan Ignacio Leal.
They pleaded guilty.
A jury convicted Polanco and Edinburg police Officer Hector Beltran after a two-week trial in July.
U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison allowed Polanco to remain on bond until sentencing.
Polanco returned to court on Oct. 3, when the judge rejected his motion for a new trial. After the hearing, Polanco approached a federal agent and pointed at him.
The comment prompted a new charge: threatening to assault a federal agent.
Polanco is scheduled for sentencing in the drug trafficking case on Dec. 11. The U.S. Probation Office calculated the guideline range at 188 to 235 months in prison.