There’s more and more media coverage about the Texas-Mexico border, and lots of debate over how dangerous it is - or isn’t - to travel through South Texas and down into Mexico.
Just this week, the Wall Street Journal reported on a warning issued by the U.S. Consultate’s Office in Monterrey that U.S. law enforcement officers or employees might be the targets of “Mexican criminal gangs” anywhere in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and San Luis Potosí.
Convicted Laredo Cop knows all about border drug traffic
However, there’s one thing for sure: Orlando Jesus Hale, 28, knows all about the drug smuggling business down near the border. Not that he’ll be profiting from it anytime soon: the former South Texas police officer was sentenced on Monday to 25 years in a federal prison. Seems Hale was caught and convicted of smuggling cocaine through Laredo.
This was no surprise to Officer Hale. He’d declined plea offers and faced a jury last September – and they had returned a guilty verdict on charges of (1) conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and (2) using a firearm to further drug trafficking.
Back in 2008, Orlando Hale was playing both sides of the law: working as a law enforcement officer, and moonlighting as a navigator of sorts, helping cocaine shipments travel through local Texas traffic on their way from Mexico to their American destinations.
At his trial last fall, Hale’s partner-in-crime and former fellow cop Pedro Martinez III testified against him. (Martinez took a plea bargain, pleading guilty and avoiding a trial.)
These Laredo Cops Apparently Felt Safe Enough As They Negotiated Shipment Protection Fees
On the stand before the federal jury, Martinez told all about how the two police officers sat down with a man who they later learned was an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There, in a Laredo hotel room, they described how they could protect cocaine shipments as they moved through Laredo, Texas. As part of the FBI sting, a deal was made for their Police Protection Service – and for $1000 apiece, the two cops protected a phony drug shipment. When the two cops showed up in San Antonio for their pay day, they were busted.