Ex-Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to 166 months in prison in Drug Trafficking Scheme

Ex-Border Patrol Agent Daniel Polanco.

By Steve Neavling

A former Border Patrol agent who was indicted on multiple drug trafficking charges and threatening a federal agent with bodily harm has been sentenced to 166 months in prison.

Daniel Polanco, 39, of Edinburg, Texas, was among six law enforcement officials charged in a scheme to steal cocaine and marijuana from drug dealers in the Rio Grande Valley before selling the drugs in Houston.  

His conviction was part of operation Blue Shame, an ongoing sting designed to root out corrupt law enforcement officers. Homeland Security is leading the operation, with the help of local police, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and CBP’s air and marine units.

U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison said Polanco exploited his position of trust as a law enforcement officer in order to commit crimes. 

“Every day, dedicated law enforcement officers across the nation risk their lives to make our communities safe, DEA Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple said in a statement. “The criminal actions of Daniel Polanco, for which he was justly sentenced, demean that dedication and sacrifice. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to target all narcotics traffickers, especially those who abuse their office and the trust of the American Public.”

The Justice Department wrote in a news release:

The investigation began in 2011 when authorities targeted a drug trafficking organization involved in the transportation and distribution of cocaine and marijuana. Authorities soon found the organization was also stealing loads of cocaine and marijuana from sources of supply. As part of the scheme, the organization had created fake bundles of drugs and used law enforcement officers to seize them in order to cover up the theft.

At trial, the jury heard Polanco helped facilitate the distribution of more than 15 kilograms of cocaine in April 2013. He and others were hired to transport the cocaine but stole it instead and sold the cocaine for profit. To cover up the theft, co-conspirators created fake drug bundles that were placed in an abandoned vehicle. Polanco assisted in the planning and staging of that incident and devised a plan to ensure law enforcement seized the sham bundles. He personally called authorities to report the abandoned vehicle and falsely reported the vehicle as looking suspicious.

Testimony revealed the drug trafficking organization paid Polanco for his participation in the scheme to seize the fake drugs. The jury also heard he made a false statement to an agent who was investigating the 15-kilogram cocaine seizure in an attempt to cover up his involvement in the transaction.

Polanco testified at trial and denied participating in the scheme. The jury did not believe his claims and convicted him of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and knowingly giving a false statement to a federal agent.

Following that verdict and losing a legal motion, Polanco threatened one of the federal agents involved in the case. He was charged and later convicted of threatening to commit bodily harm with the intent to intimidate, interfere or impede the agent while he was engaged in the performance of his official duties and/or to retaliate against him for performance of his official duties.

The drug trafficking investigation has led to the arrest and prosecution of 20 individuals including six law enforcement officers, one of whom has already received a 10-year prison term.

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