A U.S. marshal was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly disclosing the identity of an undercover agent to his father, who at the time was suspected of involvement in a drug-trafficking organization.
According to the Washington Post, Deputy U.S. Marshal Lucio Osbaldo Moya was taken into custody in South Texas and was held on $75,000 bond.
Moya, 29, reportedly faces charges of being an accessory after the fact and obstruction. He could receive up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the accessory charge.
Citing a phone interview with the deputy marshal’s attorney, the Post reports that Moya had been prepared for his arrest after months of discussions with authorities but denies any wrongdoing.
In addition to setting a bond, U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos also reportedly ordered Moya to surrender his passport and restricted his travel to the Southern District of Texas.
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According to the Post, she said he would be under electronic monitoring and home detention but also instructed him to find a job. The U.S. Attorney’s office told reporters Moya has been on paid administrative leave.
Citing court documents obtained, the Post reports that Moya’s father passed him a photocopied driver’s license that an undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agent had shared with the men who employed him to drive tractor-trailer loads of marijuana from South Texas to Houston. Moya inquired at work about the owner of the driver’s license, was told he was an undercover agent and relayed that information to his father.
After meeting with Moya, officials with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General immediately contacted the undercover agent’s supervisor and advised that his identity may have been compromised, court records show. Later that day, ICE and Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested several men targeted in the smuggling investigation, including Moya’s father.
Court records indicate that Moya’s story in reference to where he had gotten the copy of the driver’s license changed as he first told a fellow marshal that a confidential source had provided it and believed the man was smuggling truckloads of marijuana. He later went on the record as saying his father had given it to him and he hoped his father could become a paid informant, according to the records.
Moya also gave various descriptions of text messages he sent to his father, the court records show. First, he said he sent one message after learning it was an undercover agent that said “to be very careful and not to be hanging around illegal activity.” Later, Moya told investigators that he had sent his father two text messages that said: “Dad where did you get this paper” and “Dad this guy is an agent; you can’t tell anyone what is going on; and you will need to talk to someone here.”
The text messages were later deleted, according to the Post.
Moya’s attorney told reporters that the accessory charge has to do with prosecutors’ belief that Moya joined the conspiracy when telling his father about the undercover agent. The attorney said Moya informed agents about what he told his father and also urged the elder Moya to go and speak to authorities.
“He didn’t know his father was involved in it,” Looney said, adding that Moya only knew that his father had a past and thought maybe he “was still in touch with his old contacts.”