Cameron Co. Sheriff's Office Receives $5m in Forfeited Drug Money


POSTED: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 4:05pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 10:34am

Years after a major drug lord was sentenced to prison, his illegal drug money has been divided up among several of the agencies that helped to bring him down.

News Center 23 reporter Na'Tassia Finley has more on the five million dollars awarded to the Cameron County Sheriff's Dept..

It was a nearly a 12 year operation to get Ociel Cardenas, a big name tied to the Gulf Cartel.

Several agencies, including the Cameron County Sheriff's Dept., who originally kicked off the investigation, are now reaping the benefits of their hard work in the form of five million dollars.

It all started over a decade ago when the Cameron County Sheriff’s Dept. and Customs and Border Protection really began paying attention into what organization was passing marijuana, cocaine and meth into the U.S. through our Cameron County Port of Entries.

Sheriff Lucio sent in one of his own to infiltrate the drug trafficking world.

“My officers posed as an individual that was buying and transporting these drugs into other parts of the United States," said Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio.

Through his second identity, the undercover officer began meeting a lot of people tied to the man who turned out to be the head boss of this territory, Ociel Cardenas.

"Now during the course of this time, this particular officer who works in the sheriff's office had the opportunity to talk and meet face to face with Ociel Cardenas and some high members of the cartel," said Sheriff Lucio.

Fast forward… things between the undercover officer turned bad after meeting Ociel Cardenas.

The sheriff says Ociel Cardenas put out a contract hit on the undercover officer after a drug load went missing.

The Cameron Co. Sheriff’s Dept. got word of this and pulled the undercover officer and his family into hiding for six months.

Authorities then knew the drug lord they needed to go after and took quick action with partners across the border.

Cardenas was extradited from Mexico in January of 2007 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The federal government forfeited his drug money, 29 million dollars in cash...

That money has been split up between the agencies that helped to bring him down. Cameron County, the initial agency has received five point nine million dollars.

Sheriff Lucio says his office will use the money to hire new officers, purchase equipment and pay overtime to continue fighting drug trafficking and other crime right here in Cameron County.


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