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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Officials in Trafficking & Murder Plot Off to Prison

PHOENIX (CN) - A Border Patrol agent will serve 15 years for aiding drug traffickers and arranging the attempted murder of an informant, a federal judge ruled.

Former agent Ivhan Herrera-Chiang, 31, was sentenced Tuesday alongside the drug smuggler he helped, Michael Lopez-Garcia, a 30-year-old former Arizona prison guard. Lopez-Garcia will serve just nine years.

Special Agent Matt Allen explained in a statement that investigators uncovered Herrera and Lopez-Garcia's activities while looking into routine drug smuggling.

The plea agreements reveal that Herrera and Lopez-Garcia formed a "criminal partnership" to earn money by helping traffickers smuggle drugs and aliens into the United States.

Over the years, Lopez-Garcia used his prison guard uniform to personally smuggle into the United States nearly 2 pounds of methamphetamine. He also attempted to smuggle 30 kilograms of cocaine into the country.

Herrera took bribes in exchange for providing Lopez-Garcia with sensitive information, such as sensor maps, combinations to gates located near the Mexican border and computer records concerning prior drug seizures.

"During the final stages of the partnership, Lopez-Garcia attempted to arrange for the murder of a government informant after becoming fearful that the informant might be able to provide incriminating information about his activities," federal prosecutors said in a statement. "As part of this plan, Lopez-Garcia obtained confidential information concerning the informant's identity from Herrera and then relayed this information to his Mexican trafficking associates."

Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Rosenblatt handed down the sentences.

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