UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
December 14, 2005
A former Border Patrol agent caught in January with 750 pounds of marijuana in a government vehicle was sentenced in federal court to five years in prison Monday.
Luis Higareda, 31, also was sentenced to five years of supervised release, including drug testing, and fined $5,000.
"You let down your fellow officers," U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns said. "You let down your country."
Higareda, a former Marine who worked at the Border Patrol's Calexico office, was arrested along with Mexican citizen Marcelino Verdugo Cota on Jan. 4 after an undercover investigation by the FBI and the Homeland Security Department's Office of Inspector General.
According to the investigation, Higareda, who was under surveillance, was armed and in uniform when he drove to meet another car in the desert about seven miles east of the Calexico border crossing.
Federal agents tailed him as he drove at high speed before finally pulling him over in Holtville, where they found 10 duffel bags filled with marijuana in the vehicle.