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Contraband
12/03/2009

Federal probation officer pleads guilty to drug trafficking and bribery

Probation officer was providing confidential information to drug traffickers

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - A U.S. probation officer pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and bribery of a public official. The plea was announced by U. S. Attorney Tim Johnson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in conjunction with the FBI.

Armando Mora, 36, of Edinburg, Texas, assigned to the Rio Grande City office of the U.S. Probation Office, pleaded guilty to two counts contained in the indictment at a Dec. 2 hearing in federal court before U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle. Mora is facing at least 10 years up to life imprisonment, in addition to millions of dollars in fines for the drug trafficking offense. On the bribery offense Mora could face a maximum punishment of 15 years imprisonment and thousands in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for March 2 at 1:30 p.m.

Mora was indicted in August on charges of conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and bribery of a public official. Mora admitted he received bribe payments from a drug trafficking organization to provide sensitive and confidential information from government records. The drug trafficking organization screened its prospective drivers of drug loads through Mora before they were hired. Mora obtained confidential and sensitive background information on the prospective driver, including active arrest warrants, criminal history, and driver's license information. Relying upon the information Mora provided, the drug trafficking organization decided whether to hire the drivers.

In July 2009, Mora received $5,000 from a member of the drug trafficking organization for providing confidential information regarding an individual Mora was supervising, and who was being considered as a driver for the drug trafficking organization.

During the time in which Mora provided information on the drivers - February 2009 to July 2009 - ICE seized about 1,915 kilograms (4,213 pounds) of marijuana and 264 kilograms (581 pounds) of cocaine.

Mora has been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anibal J. Alaniz and Linda Requenez Rossborough, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting this case.