Crossing the line: Corruption at the border

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Manuel Eduardo Pena

Age: 38
Occupation: Customs and Border Protection
Gender: Male
Years of service: 11-15 years
Duty station: Brownsville, TX
Case date: 5-24-2012
Crime: False statements
Sentence: 5 years probation
Manuel Eduardo Pena, 38, a 12-year-veteran, was convicted by a federal grand jury in Brownsville, Texas, on Aug. 20, 2012, on two counts of making a false statement on an official federal form and one count of making a false statement to a federal agent. According to court documents, a federal agent testified that he witnessed Pena buy a firearm Dec. 5, 2011, at the Academy sporting goods store in Brownsville. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Form 4473, which is required to be completed by anyone purchasing firearms, indicated that Pena stated he was purchasing the firearm for himself. However, special agents witnessed Pena take the firearm from the store and deliver it to another person in exchange for money. In addition, the person Pena sold the firearm to testified that the gun was intended for him, not Pena. The evidence presented indicated that Pena made a second straw purchase Dec. 19, 2011, at the same store. Homeland Security Investigations and FBI special agents were present and again witnessed Pena purchase the firearm, state on Form 4473 that the firearm was for him and then transfer the gun to the same individual. The FBI took possession of both firearms. Pena was arrested May 24, 2012, at which time he lied to an FBI agent claiming he had bought the guns for his own personal hunting use. He stated he used the guns at his deer lease before leaving them with a friend. In fact, the FBI possessed the guns. Pena was sentenced in November 2012 to five years probation.
News reports

Flurry of misconduct cases hits border agency (Center for Investigative Reporting, Aug. 27, 2012)

South Texas federal jury convicts CBP officer of straw-purchasing firearms (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Aug. 20, 2012)

CBP officer charged with straw purchasing firearms (Brownsville Herald, May 25, 2012)


CBP Officer Handed Sentence in Firearms Case (U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas, Nov. 19, 2012)