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Narcotics
09/26/2011

South Texas federal probation officer sentenced to 14 years in prison for drug trafficking and bribery

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A former U.S. probation officer was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison on Monday for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and for bribing a public official, announced U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance by the FBI.

Armando Mora, 38, of Edinburg, Texas, appeared before U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle on Sept. 26. Judge Tagle sentenced Mora to 168 months in prison for convictions on drug trafficking and bribing a public official. In addition to his prison sentence, Judge Tagle ordered that Mora's sentence be followed by a five-year term of supervised release.

According to court documents, Mora was charged by indictment in August 2009 with conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and bribing a public official. On Dec. 2, 2009, he pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and bribery charges, admitting that while assigned as a probation officer with the Rio Grande office of the U.S. Probation Office, he accepted bribe payments from members of a drug trafficking organization to provide sensitive and confidential information from government records.

Evidence proved that before the drug trafficking organization considered hiring drivers to transport its drug loads, the names of the individuals were provided to Mora. Mora, in turn, obtained confidential and sensitive information about whether the prospective driver had any active arrest warrants, as well as their criminal history and driver's license information. Relying on the information Mora provided, a member of the drug trafficking organization then decided whether or not to hire the driver. 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.

From February 2009 to July 2009, the time period in which Mora provided information about the drivers to transport drug loads for the organization, ICE HSI seized 1,915 kilograms (4213 pounds) of marijuana and 264 kilograms (581 pounds) of cocaine.

Mora, who had been permitted to remain out on bond pending his sentencing hearing, was allowed to continue on that bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anibal J. Alaniz and Linda Requénez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.