- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A former South Texas border patrol officer has been sentenced to 6½ years in federal prison for letting drug-hauling vehicles pass in deals allegedly made by cellphone.

Former Customs and Border Protection Officer Jose Luis Zavala of Brownsville entered his guilty plea Thursday before U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, who also fined him $7,500 and ordered him to serve 3 years of supervised release.

Zavala on Nov. 19 was working the Gateway Port of Entry when a van in his lane was randomly chosen for inspection. Officers found about 3,000 pounds of marijuana. The driver ran back to Mexico. Prosecutors say text messages allegedly coordinated payments.

Zavala could have been sentenced to up to life in prison.

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