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Alabama National Guard soldier caught with 1 kilogram of cocaine during sting operation

Homeland Security Investigations caught an Alabama National Guard soldier with a kilogram of cocaine on Monday, according to the criminal complaint against him.

Agents with Homeland Security Investigations, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, arrested Derrick Terelle Sankey, 21, of Montgomery, Alabama, after conducting an undercover operation.

Sankey and other Alabama National Guard soldiers deployed to South Texas to assist U.S. Border Patrol.

On Sept. 8, however, Homeland Security Investigations “received information” that Sankey had become involved in criminal activity. Agents started planning an undercover operation.

“During the undercover operation, SANKEY agreed to transport one (1) kilogram of narcotics from the Whataburger in Hidalgo, Texas to the DoubleTree Hotel in McAllen, Texas,” according to the criminal complaint. “SANKEY arrived at the Whataburger in Hidalgo, Texas in a military uniform, driving a United States Border Patrol marked patrol vehicle.”

Homeland Security Investigations arrested Sankey on Monday after he picked up the cocaine from an undercover agent.

Sankey waived his right to remain silent, according to the criminal complaint against him, and spoke with Homeland Security Investigations agents.

“SANKEY admitted that he believed the person he received the package from had brought the package from Mexico into the United States,” according to the criminal complaint. “SANKEY admitted that he was to be paid $1,000 for his efforts.”

The Alabama National Guard released a statement about Sankey on Wednesday.

“We are aware that Derrick Sankey, an Alabama National Guardsman who is deployed to Texas in support of the DoD Southwest border support mission, was arrested. He is a Specialist assigned to the 2025th transportation company,” according to a statement released by Sandra D. Lucas, the deputy director of public affairs. “The incident is under investigation, please refer all further queries to Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio, Texas.”

With the case pending, Homeland Security Investigations declined to comment on Sankey’s arrest.

“HSI McAllen is working this case,” said agency spokeswoman Nina Pruneda. “But due to the ongoing investigation no further details are being provided at this time.”

Sankey made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker on Tuesday morning.

Hacker explained the charge against Sankey — possession with intent to distribute 1 kilogram of cocaine — and summarized the criminal complaint.

Wearing an orange jail uniform and a blue surgical mask, Sankey said he understood the allegations.

Hacker said that Sankey didn’t appear to qualify for a court-appointed attorney.

“This information indicates that you make a good amount of income from the Army,” Hacker said. “It states that you have a substantial amount of money in checking and savings accounts. It basically states that you have little, if any, liabilities.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, which is prosecuting Sankey, requested temporary detention.

Hacker scheduled a preliminary examination and detention hearing for Friday afternoon, when the court may set bond.

Attorney Crispin “CJ” Quintanilla of McAllen-based law firm Garcia, Quintanilla & Palacios is representing Sankey.

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