- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A former U.S. Border Patrol agent arrested in Arizona for smuggling what he believed was 110 pounds of cocaine has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Juan Pimentel was arrested last November near Tucson. He told authorities he was being paid $50,000 to transport the cocaine to Chicago.

But court records show Pimentel wasn’t actually carrying drugs and the bundles in his rental car were white powder. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the investigation that led to Pimentel’s arrest. His attorney said he was in court and could not respond.

Pimentel joined the Border Patrol in October 2001 and resigned less than a week after his arrest in 2015, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Last month, Pimentel pleaded guilty to attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and receiving a bribe by a public official. He faces 10 to 15 years in prison and will be sentenced on Sept. 28.

Pimentel was driving a rental car and identified himself as a Border Patrol agent when he was pulled over on Nov. 18, 2015. He was carrying suitcases with about 50 bundles of what Pimentel believed was cocaine.

He initially told a state trooper the drugs weren’t his, but later said he was going to be paid $50,000 to transport them to Chicago, according to a criminal complaint.

Court records also show that in February 2015 Pimentel received a cash payment for providing the results of a license plate query taken from a database only used by law enforcement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske announced Pimentel’s arrest during a news conference in Phoenix last year while talking about corruption within the agency.

“Let me tell you that when he is convicted or pleads guilty to that charge that the badge that he had as a United States Border Patrol agent will be destroyed - it will never be worn again by another Border Patrol agent,” Kerlikowske said.

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