Border agent, jail officer arrested in drug conspiracy case

A U.S. Border Patrol agent and an Arizona Department of Corrections officer were arrested Thursday and charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, according to court documents.

Border Agent Ivhan Herrera-Chiang, who has been with the force since 2006, along with corrections officer Michael Lopez, who has been with the corrections department since 2006, are accused of conspiring to smuggle drugs into the U.S., according to the documents.

Herrera has been with the Smuggling Interdiction Group since March 2011, which includes access to smugglers, surveillance and intelligence collection. In the documents, an investigation found that Herrera was the middle man between a drug trafficking organization in Mexico and Lopez.

Herrera allegedly monitored the Border Patrol radio and location of agents when he was not able to participate directly in the smuggling, and notify Lopez of where the operation should take place.

Lopez also stands accused of smuggling one pound of methamphetamine into the U.S. through the Port of Entry by taping the drugs to his body under his uniform and guiding other traffickers to routes to avoid checkpoints.

Lopez offered a confession to smuggling the drugs as well as working with Herrera to obtain sensitive information when he was arrested Thursday, officials say. Herrera also is said to have confessed to receiving payment in return for information after he was arrested.