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April 12, 2017New York, NY, United StatesNarcotics

CBP Officer indicted in drug trafficking conspiracy

NEW YORK — A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer was indicted Wednesday for his role in a conspiracy to import more than 100 pounds of cocaine into the U.S. Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York with assistance from CBP New York Field Office and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General arrested the man.

Fernando Marte, 28, of Farmingdale, NY, allegedly abused his law enforcement position by escorting drug smugglers through CBP inspection at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport in Queens.

"As a public servant entrusted with border security and keeping dangerous drugs out of our country, Officer Marte instead sought to serve himself and stained the badge he wore by doing so, by allowing cocaine to flow through JFK airport and into our city,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York. "For corrupt officers who think they can hide behind their badge as they engage in transnational criminal activity, today’s indictment shows you will be caught and brought to justice."

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission. If you have integrity, you will not taint the image or disgrace the hard work of the men and women who wear the CBP uniform. There is no place in our ranks for individuals who violate our laws and break the trust of the American people. I thank our law enforcement partners for their assistance in helping to preserve the core values of our agency - vigilance, service and integrity,” stated Acting Director Hayward.

As alleged in the indictment and in a previously filed complaint, beginning in January 2016, Marte, an employee of the United States Customs and Border Protection who worked at John F. Kennedy International Airport, conspired to import cocaine into the United States from the Dominican Republic. On Feb. 7, 2017, while on duty for CBP, Marte approached two individuals who had arrived together at JFK on a flight from the Dominican Republic. Marte escorted the individuals to the baggage claim area where they loaded two suitcases onto a baggage cart. Marte then escorted one of the individuals and the baggage cart through the secondary inspection point in the terminal.

Upon searching the suitcases, CBP officers recovered 45 brick-shaped packages containing approximately 45 kilograms of cocaine. Further investigation has revealed that Marte previously escorted at least one other drug smuggler from the Dominican Republic through the inspection area at JFK Airport. 

The charges in the indictments are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. This case is being prosecuted out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York’s Public Integrity Section.