A Houston jury convicted a former Edinburg police officer and a U.S. Border Patrol agent of federal drug charges on Monday after a two-week trial that drew little media attention as another public corruption case unfolded here.
The jury deliberated for about four hours before convicting former Edinburg police officer Hector Beltran, 44, and agent Daniel Polanco, 38, of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Mission resident Carmen Saldana Meyer, a 64-year-old FBI confidential source, was also convicted for her role in a scheme that involved the theft of cocaine from drug traffickers.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Blue Shame, was far reaching. It resulted in the arrest of 15 people and a total of four law enforcement officers, including Beltran and Polanco. Nine others, including a former Houston police officer and a former officer with the Harris County Constable’s Office have previously pleaded guilty and are pending sentencing.
The drug trafficking organization “created fake bundles of drugs and used law enforcement officers to seize them in order to cover up the theft,” the news release said, later adding Beltran and Polanco “abused their positions of trust as law enforcement officers to further the conspiracy.”
The pair would provide reports of the seizure to Meyer, who would then deliver the paperwork to Gulf Cartel members in Mexico as proof the drugs had been seized. Fake cocaine would be turned in as evidence, and the actual drugs were later sold for profit.
All three defendants testified at trial and denied participating in the scheme, but the jury did not believe them.
Aside from the conspiracy charge, Polanco and Meyer were also found guilty of one and two counts, respectively, of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Polanco was also convicted of making a false statement to federal agents, while Meyer was also found guilty of kidnapping.
U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison allowed Beltran and Polanco to remain on bond pending their sentencing hearing set for Oct. 8. Meyer will remain in custody. All face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison as well as a possible $10 million fine.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted Operation Blue Shame.