Undercover Agent Outed by Marshal, Feds Say
McALLEN, Texas (CN) - A U.S. marshal whose father was allegedly involved in a drug-trafficking ring blew the cover of an undercover agent, prosecutors say.
The Homeland Security agent had allegedly posed as a tractor-trailer driver named Guadalupe Zavala who would help drug traffickers transport marijuana in Texas last year.
Zavala transported 1,800 pounds of marijuana for $50,000, and then helped authorities seize the drugs without breaking cover, according to a federal complaint filed Tuesday.
A man who was supposed to receive 300 pounds of that shipment allegedly sent Juan Norberto Moya to meet with the agent and demand compensation.
Zavala's colleagues subsequently discovered that Juan Moya's son, Lucio Osbaldo Moya, was a deputy U.S. marshal.
"At that time, agent did not have any reason to suspect that DUSM Moya was involved in any criminal activity," according to the complaint.
Prosecutors say 51-year-old Juan Moya and his associate wanted more information about Zavala in preparation of a second marijuana shipment. After the traffickers obtained a copy of Zavala's driver's license, Deputy U.S. Marshal Moya brought that copy to work on Oct. 5, 2011, according to the complaint.
Claiming that a confidential source gave it to him, and that he thought it might lead to the apprehension of a corrupt Border Patrol agent, the marshal allegedly showed Zavala's license to a colleague.
Prosecutors say the colleague requested a color copy, recognized Zapala as an undercover agent and shared that information with Deputy U.S. Marshal Moya.
The marshals then met with a Homeland Security agent and received confirmation. Deputy U.S. Marshal Moya then told Homeland Security agents that his father gave him the copy of the license, according to the complaint.
All attendees at the meeting agreed to keep the information quiet, but Homeland Security apparently feared that their agent's identity had been compromised.
That same day, authorities arrested several alleged members of the drug ring, including the marshal's father, prosecutors say.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Moya allegedly informed a colleague the next day that he had texted his father after their meeting with Homeland Security. Prosecutors say agents with the Justice Department, FBI and ICE then called the marshal in for questioning.
The marshal allegedly revealed that his father had given him Zapala's license to become a paid confidential informant. He also admitted that his text messages to his father after the meeting revealed Zapala as an undercover agent, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors say the marshal erased all of his text messages before turning his phone over. Phone records allegedly show that Moya and his father exchanged six text messages around the time that he showed his colleague a copy of the agent's license on Oct 5. They also allegedly spoke on the phone for about a minute at that time. Just before midnight that day, they allegedly exchanged another 12 text messages.
An examination of the marshal's work computer revealed that he had searched on Yahoo for the agent's undercover name on Oct. 5, according to the complaint.
Federal agents arrested Lucio Osbaldo Moya, 29, on Tuesday morning. He appeared in federal court on Wednesday, where U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos reportedly set his bond at $75,000 and remanded him to the custody of the U.S. marshals.
Moya faces a charge of being an accessory after the fact and obstruction of a proceeding. If convicted, the marshal faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $2.5 million fine.