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Border Patrol agent charged with trafficking 110 lbs of cocaine

A U.S. Border Patrol agent has been arrested by state police in Southern Arizona on charges of carrying 110 pounds (50 kg) of cocaine in a rented vehicle that he planned to drive to Chicago, officials said on Monday.

Juan Pimentel, 47, has been detained without bail on a felony charge of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine stemming from his Nov. 18 arrest on Interstate 10 near Marana, a criminal complaint document showed.

He has resigned as a Border Patrol agent, effective Tuesday, after 14 years with the agency, the Border Patrol said in a statement.

State troopers had stopped Pimentel in his rented gray Ford Expedition because of a problem with his license plate, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Tucson.

Pimentel allowed the troopers to search the vehicle and they found 50 bundles of cocaine inside four suitcases, the complaint stated.

He admitted to reaching a deal to deliver the drugs to Chicago for $50,000, the complaint said, and also told the troopers he had a firearm in his bag.

The complaint did not say who had agreed to pay Pimentel to transport the drugs. Pimentel's attorney, Eric Manch, said it was too early to comment on the allegations.

"He is entitled to the presumption of innocence just like anyone who is suspected of committing a crime," Manch said.

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Pimentel faces a sentence of at least 10 years in prison if convicted of the charge of trying to transport the cocaine for distribution.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com