Former Cameron County sheriff to be released from prison early

Former Cameron County sheriff Conrado Cantu will soon walk out of jail.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ordered time served for the 63-year-old Cantu, who will serve the remaining months of his sentence under home confinement.

Nearly 15 years ago, Cantu admitted to protecting drug traffickers while serving as sheriff from January 2001 until December 2004.

He entered a guilty plea in December 2005 to a single count of racketeering.

In a plea deal, Cantu said he worked with a former captain and former jailer to solicit and extort bribes from drug traffickers, including a $10,000 bribe just one month after he took office.

Cantu also admitted to protecting illegal video gamblers and confessed to covering up a March 2004 shootout between one of his political supporters and deputies, according to newspaper archives.

The former sheriff is being released under the First Step Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Dec. 21, 2018.

The legislation allows inmates who are 60-years-old and older who have served two-thirds of their sentence to apply for early release.

In a March letter to Marmolejo, who is based in Laredo, a contrite Cantu asked the federal judge for mercy.

“Judge, I want you to know that I apologize for my past transgressions against the law,” Cantu wrote. “For many years, those selfish choices that separated me from my family have been a heavy burden on my heart.”

Cantu, who was scheduled for release on April 1, 2020, is currently incarcerated at a prison in Lexington, Kentucky, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Upon release, he will live with his son in Corpus Christi.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com