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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

US Customs Officer Charged with Cocaine Importation

In a hearing on Wednesday, April 13, United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak formally arraigned a former United States Customs and Border Protection employee for cocaine importation. The indictment and criminal complaint accused the CBP employee—Fernando Marte—of “conspiring to import, and with importing, more than five kilograms of Cocaine from the Dominican Republic.” The complaint achieved that the criminal activity began in January 2016 and ran just more than one year.

The United States Department of Homeland Security announced the charges—Customs and Border Protection along, with ICE fall under Homelands Security umbrella of organizations. Aside from the Acting US attorney, Bridget M. Rohde, only Homeland Security Officials announced the charges – Angel M. Melendez, ICE and HSI Special Agent in Charge, New York; Leon Hayward, Acting Director, CBP, New York; and Gregory Null, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security.

Previous cases that exclusively involved the Department of Homeland Security, often lacked any sort of voice opinions, especially with regard to the press. This was the opposite and authorities from the case quite seriously. And nearly every statement made reflected such a seriousness. “There is no place in our ranks for individuals who violate our laws and break the trust of the American people,” Acting Director Hayward said

The announcement lacked the full depth and scale of the case. For instance, it made no mention of the Investigations status as a closed investigation or one with pending charges. Likewise, the spokesperson never mentioned whether or not authorities pursued any overseas suspects. However, the spokesperson said that authorities, through further investigation, “revealed that Marte previously escorted at least one other drug smuggler from the Dominican Republic through the inspection area at JFK Airport.”

In January 2017, Marte committed the same crime, save for the number of smugglers he escorted to the baggage claim section of the airport. According to the announcement, he approached two individuals who arrived at the JFK airport from an inbound Dominican Republic flight. He helped them through the airport and loaded two suitcases into a baggage cart. Other CBP officers opened the bags at the second checkpoint and found 45 bricks of cocaine in the suitcases. Naturally, the bricks weighed in at “approximately” 45 kilograms. Marte’s career ended shortly thereafter, both as a drug smuggler’s assistant and a CBP employee.

The Department of Homeland Security announced their satisfaction with Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak’s decision. “Mr. Marte’s arraignment is a step in the right direction to maintain the public’s trust. This investigation was a concerted effort among law enforcement partners that worked tirelessly to hold Mr. Marte accountable,” Special Agent-in-Charge Null said.

Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez added that “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.”
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