EDINBURG, Texas — A former Edinburg Police Department K-9 officer has been sentenced to federal prison following his conviction on multiple drug trafficking charges in connection with a near-decade long investigation into a conspiracy by a drug trafficking organization to rip off their narcotics supplier with the assistance of multiple law enforcement officers (LEO).
Earlier this morning, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison sentenced 44-year-old Hector Beltran to 120 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on charges for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.
"In handing down the sentence, the court noted Beltran abused his position of trust as a law enforcement officer (LEO) and used a possessed a firearm during the commission of the offense," read a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Texas.
According to information presented at trial, Beltran and other law enforcement officers would seize fake bundles of cocaine and marijuana from drug traffickers. Those traffickers, in a conspiracy with the indicted and convicted LEO co-conspirators, would then report the seized narcotics to their source of supply. In turn, the traffickers would sell the now-stolen narcotics.
Because the seizures of the fake narcotics were coordinated, and their were no actual arrests at the time of the seizures, the narcotics were never tested and placed in evidence lockers. The involved LEOs would then provide the drug traffickers with seizure documents which they supplied to their source of supply to further conceal the conspiracy.
Upon discovery of the scheme, federal investigators reviewed Beltran's more than 10 drug seizures and tested the fake narcotics in the evidence lockers — discovering the suspected marijuana contained hay and the suspected cocaine only contained trace amounts of cocaine hydrochloride.
Beltran conducted and assisted other law enforcement agencies in the seizure of approximately 600 kilograms of fake marijuana and 168 kilograms of fake cocaine, according to testimony at trial. He was compensated by the drug trafficking organization for his participation in the seizure of the fake narcotics.
The investigation into the drug trafficking organization by ICE and HSI began in 2011 and was dubbed Operation Blue Shame.
Beltran, at trial, denied his involvement in the scheme but, was ultimately found guilty by a federal jury in Houston last July. He had been previously released on bond and will be ordered to surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons at a date to be determined in the near future, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Operation Blue Shame has led to the arrest and prosecution of 20 co-defendants including Beltran and five other LEOs — two of which were Border Patrol agents, the former chief of the LaJoya Police Department, a Harris County Constable's Office, and officers with the Houston and Edcouch police departments.