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Ex-Santa Cruz deputy gets 6 years for drug trafficking

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Ex-Santa Cruz deputy gets 6 years for drug trafficking

Man used uniform, patrol vehicle to move cocaine through checkpoint

A former Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputy was sentenced to six years in federal prison Tuesday for drug trafficking, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.

Jesus Rene Contreras, 31, of Nogales, pleaded guilty on July 14 to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, said Bill Solomon, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to court records, Contreras conspired with Ernesto Castro and another individual to use Contreras' position with the sheriff's office to transport cocaine through the Interstate 19 Border Patrol checkpoint.

While in uniform and driving his patrol vehicle, Contreras traveled with 4.9 kilograms of cocaine through the checkpoint on March 2, 2010, the court documents said.

Castro was sentenced on Sept. 26 to six years for his part in the crime and a related supervised-release violation, Solomon said.

“When law enforcement officers engage in corrupt activities while in official uniform, they not only violate the public’s trust, but they also put our communities’ safety at risk,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel.

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